Here’s a comparison of the four most commonly used types of food-service gloves.

Polyethylene gloves


■ These come in many thicknesses and sizes and are generally the least expensive of all glove types, especially the thin, one-size-fits-all type.

■ Japanese polyethylene sushi gloves are designed to snugly fit the tip of the finger and “squeeze” around the bottoms of the fingers, preventing the gloves from slipping off. These sushi gloves have a slightly roughened surface which helps keep the rice from sticking to the hands and helps maintain a good grip on the knife and the product.

■ When burned, polyethylene does not produce dioxins or bisphenol, so these are more environmentally friendly than other types.


■ Thin, one-size-fits-all gloves tend to tear easily and are not suitable for use around high heat.

■ Japanese poly gloves may not fit larger hands.

■ The heat-welded seams on these gloves are typically where they tend to fail.

Vinyl (polyvinyl chloride), or PVC gloves


■ These provide snug fit and some degree of dexterity.

■ They are more resistant to oil than latex.

■ They can be worn around heat without melting.


■ It has been found that, in some cases, PVC gloves begin leaking as soon as they are donned by stretching or by snagging on nail edges. Because of this, PVC gloves have been described by some healthcare experts as “infection control nightmares.”

Nitrile gloves


■ They are less elastic than latex but are significantly more durable.

■ They provide the wearer with good dexterity at moderate cost.

■ They are resistant to many chemicals.

■ They are abrasion- and puncture-resistant.


■ Like other glove types, nitrile gloves are sensitive to alcohol degradation.

■ They have been found to be sensitive to ozone degradation and can be somewhat brittle and stiffer than latex.

■ Once breached, these gloves tear easily resulting in breaks in which glove pieces may end up in food.

■ Nitrile gloves may contain bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, or DEHP, recognized as carcinogenic.

Natural rubber latex gloves


■ These are the most commonly available and often among the least expensive of the comfortable, tight-fitting elastic glove types.

■ Latex gloves offer good dexterity, a snug fit, good tactile sensitivity and can withstand high heat.


■ Many people are now either allergic to latex or to the chemical additives used in the glove-making process.

■ Latex particles and other chemicals can slough off into food when the chlorinated glove surface breaks.

■ Latex gloves will deteriorate over time with exposure to oxygen, ozone or ultraviolet light or when exposed to oils and solvents such as alcohol.

Sources: Aliza Green;;