Study Reveals Glove Pathogen Threat to Food Industry

By: Eagle Protects on 21 October 2022

Study Reveals Glove Pathogen Threat to Food Industry

Global glove and PPE supplier Eagle Protect has released the final results of the company’s multi-year microbial analysis of potential pathogenic glove contamination. The tests confirmed human fecal indicators on 50% of new and unused gloves, together with strains of Bacillus cereus and other detected food-borne pathogens including B. anthracisListeria monocytogenesClostridioides difficileStaphylococcus aureusPseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

“There are several factors at play that, when combined, present a real risk - especially for the healthcare and food-handling industries”

The final data of what has been described as the longest-running and most intensive study of disposable gloves and their implications to health and food-handling sectors, was recently presented at the International Association of Food Protection’s (IAFP) annual meeting by leading microbiologist Barry Michaels. In all, 2,800 new and unused U.S. glove imports from 26 different brands were independently tested. Their analysis identified over 250 different viable microbial species on both the interior and exterior glove surfaces.

Eagle Protect CEO Steve Ardagh believes the disposable glove industry must take actionable steps to prevent the potential risk of illness and death attributed to contaminated single-use gloves entering the U.S. marketplace. “There are several factors at play that, when combined, present a real risk - especially for the healthcare and food-handling industries," stated Ardagh. He points out that, under the FDA’s current food compliance standards, disposable gloves aren’t required to be clean or intact, and only reference chemical content and migration standards.

Ardagh shares that there are few - if any - inspection procedures for gloves imported to the U.S., despite many instances where gloves clearly aren’t compliant with FDA standards. “It’s basically an honor system, dependent on the lowered standard of hygiene and manufacturing processes of factories based in Southeast Asia,” stated Ardagh. “It’s been our observation that the majority of glove-importers aren’t conducting routine testing or maintaining quality control procedures." In Ardagh’s expert opinion, this lack of effort makes them complicit in the distribution of extremely poor and potentially dangerous glove products entering the U.S.

Approximately 300 billion gloves are used in the U.S. annually. The current lack of oversight jeopardizes the food-handling supply chain, as evidenced by several recent food-borne outbreak recalls traced back to chemicals transmitted from food-safe gloves. In addition to risking the health and safety of glove wearers, company recalls can be costly to the bottom line and reputation. According to one particular study, a single product recall can cause as much as $10 million in losses.

The study, “Validation of the Single-Use Glove Microbiome Shotgun WGS Metagenomic Analysis,” will be published following an official peer-review in upcoming issues of the Journal of Food Protection.

About Eagle Protect

Eagle Protect was founded in New Zealand in 2006 by Steve Ardagh and Lynda Ronaldson, whose purpose has focused on the responsible sourcing of superior quality products to ensure customer safety and impact reduction, ultimately mitigating customers’ risk. To ensure Eagle Protect’s gloves adhere to the highest level of glove safety and performance and manufacturing consistency, their proprietary independent glove analysis tests for cleanliness (microbial and fungal contaminants), chemicals and toxins, durability, and cross-contamination potential. For more information, please visit

About Barry Michaels

Barry Michaels, owner of the B. Michaels Group, is an accomplished microbiologist adventurer, specializing in domestic and international product safety, regulatory affairs, product development and related microbiology/toxicology with over 40 years of experience in control and prevention of disease or adverse events. For more information, please visit