Vinyl vs. Nitrile Gloves – The Food Safety Facts

Disposable gloves are worn frequently for food handling and food preparation. The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods determined that handling food with bare skin contributes significantly to the transmission of foodborne diseases.

Infectious pathogens are known to have a low infective dose, which means that consuming even a small amount of contaminated food can cause someone to fall ill. Wearing food-safe gloves puts a protective barrier between potentially harmful diseases and the food that’s being handled, reducing the risk of bacterial transmission.

The type of gloves you use influences food safety. Not all disposables are food-grade gloves, meaning you must be careful with the materials you use for food prep. Moreover, gloves can quickly become contaminated, so wearers must know the correct way to put on and remove their gloves.

Two of the most popular types of gloves used in the food industry are vinyl and nitrile. There are benefits to both materials, and either can be effective in preventing cross-contamination. However, certain materials may be more suitable for specific circumstances.

Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are made from synthetic rubber, plasticizers, and virgin polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They have a high protection barrier, making them the most popular material for manufacturing gloves for the food and hospitality sectors. Vinyl gloves are some of the cheapest options and are latex-free, making them suitable for people with allergies.

This type of material is unsuitable for handling hazardous materials as they don’t offer much chemical resistance. Due to their cost-effectiveness, they are used mainly in low-risk scenarios, including food preparation. Although vinyl is versatile, the gloves tend to be thicker than other types, reducing their flexibility.

Advantages of Using Vinyl Gloves

The main advantages of using vinyl gloves include:

  • They are one of the cheapest glove options, giving restaurants and food businesses a cost-effective option
  • Highly resistant to oils and fatty substances
  • Anti-static material, making the gloves more versatile
  • Latex-free, meaning they are suitable for those with allergies
  • Lightweight and disposable
  • Lightly powdered, making them easier to put on

Disadvantages of Using Vinyl Gloves

Some of the main disadvantages of using vinyl gloves include:

  • They lack the durability and flexibility of other materials such as nitrile
  • Low levels of protection against biomedical materials and chemicals
  • Vulnerable to punctures, increasing the risk of contamination
  • The material may be overstretched, compromising the protection level and integrity of the glove
  • Low protection levels when compared to nitrile gloves
  • Loose-fitting and less elastic than nitrile, making intricate tasks a little more complicated

Vinyl vs. Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile is a type of synthetic rubber. It is flexible, durable, and boasts strong chemical resistance, ideal for manufacturing food-safe gloves. Quality nitrile gloves are used in several industries, including healthcare, science, industrial, and food sectors. Nitrile gloves are more durable than vinyl when carrying out intricate tasks involved in food processing, meaning they are prevalent in the foodservice industry.

Another key feature of nitrile gloves is that they are made using synthetic rubber (acrylonitrile-butadiene), which gives them a higher level of tactile sensitivity. This means wearers should have no issues performing precise food handling tasks. It also gives them increased puncture resistance, reducing the risk of contamination from bare hands.

Nitrile gloves were first created for people with latex allergies. They are powder-free and latex-free gloves with abrasion resistance. As well as making them more puncture-resistant, nitrile gloves provide a layer of protection.

Advantages of Using Nitrile Gloves

Some of the main advantages of using nitrile powder-free or powdered gloves include:

  • Resistant to oils and fatty substances
  • High levels of chemical resistance
  • Excellent puncture resistance when compared to similar gloves
  • Good touch sensitivity, allowing for precise control
  • An excellent alternative to latex gloves for those with allergies
  • Comfortable fit
  • Durable but flexible products
  • Lightweight and disposable
  • You can wear it for several hours at a time
  • Long shelf life

Disadvantages of Using Nitrile Gloves

In relation to food safety, there aren’t many disadvantages to using nitrile gloves. However, they are more expensive than vinyl, and nitrile is difficult to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way.

Which Gloves Should You Choose?

While there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of gloves, there is no definitive consensus on which material is better for every food safety scenario. Nitrile gloves are more durable and resistant to chemicals, temperature fluctuations, oils, and fats, making them ideal for all types of food handling. However, nitrile is quite expensive. Vinyl is cheaper but not as durable or flexible as nitrile, meaning you must be wary of contamination.

Whatever material you choose, ensure the gloves are food grade and suitable for the safe handling of food and packaging. Powdered gloves are easy to put on and take off quickly, making them ideal if you need to change gloves frequently. Powder-free gloves aren’t as easy to put on and take off, but they have less chance of contaminating your food and don’t leave a residue after use.

For High-Level Protection, Shop at ICU Production Inc.

It’s important to source gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) from a reputable source. ICU Production Inc. is a leading provider of quality materials for the food and hospitality, healthcare, and retail industries. Our products are approved by the FDA, giving you quality assurance.

Our range of gloves includes latex, pure nitrile, vinyl, and nitrile-vinyl blend options, ensuring you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.