dog-and-cat-say-gloves-are-cool If you live Kansas City, you make it a point to know where your gloves are in February, even when a freakishly mild winter hands you a 73-degree Saturday like it did yesterday. I used to think the benefits of gloves were one of those universal truths that could in no way be misunderstood — whether you were talking about winter wear or food safety gear. I was wrong. At the 2015 Food Safety Summit in Baltimore I was shocked to learn that a survey of food service workers whose jobs required them to wear gloves showed half of them thought the purpose of the gloves was to keep their hands clean. Color my mind blown. In that instant I began to understand the incredible amount of work that needs to be done to raise awareness about proper food safety practices. How could there be such a dangerous disconnect? How did food safety training fail so completely? I was reminded of the glove research in recent days when a theater employee exposed moviegoers to Hepatitis A in Oregon. The employee had recently returned from international travel and had unknowingly contracted Hep A. Theresa Valenti, one of our Facebook readers, posted a comment on our story about the movie theater exposure: “Why isn’t every foodservice worker everywhere wearing gloves when they serve food?” she pondered. two-gloved-thumbs-up Color me delighted, Theresa. Imagine my shock and awe when another reader asked if gloves would make a difference. Theresa was quick to reply that gloves do make a difference, that they are a matter of food safety. Thanks for speaking up for food safety, Theresa. A few days later, the glove question came up again. New Jersey Public Television, NJTV, reported on a research project by William Paterson University involving glove changing habits of food truck vendors in New York City. Professors Corey Basch and Miryam Wahrman led a team that collected folding money through purchases at 25 different vendors on wheels in Manhattan. They found bacteria on 75 percent of the bills — the bills that touched the hands that made the food that went into the customers’ mouths. food-truck Color me not surprised. Mom always insisted that you wash your hands after touching money. Not that Mom was germaphobic. She just understood the nature of germs. Somehow she was able to teach me that by touching money, I was touching everything and everyone the money had touched. That’s pretty much what the researchers were getting at with their examination of food truck hand hygiene. In their observation of 500 transactions at food trucks, 99 percent of the vendors did not change their gloves when they should have. Almost a third of them didn’t have gloves. Generally, good practices and health codes require gloves to be changed after a single use and between tasks that don’t involve food preparation. “We do believe this is a widespread problem, in part possibly because they’re just not aware of the risk that they are possibly transmitting foodborne illness,” Basch told New Jersey public television. Who knew the universal truth of gloves would prove so elusive to so many. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)