5 Questions with Steve Ardagh, CEO and Founder, Eagle Protect; glove industry authority for 20 years

Sponsored Content - Ask the Experts: Why FDA Food Compliant Gloves Could Be a Risk to Your Business

Having visited scores of factories throughout southeast Asia, Steve Ardagh has witnessed the massive variation in quality and hygiene standard of glove manufacturing. Fast forward 20 years, and he is now at the forefront of glove research, the results of which have been presented at the International Association for Food Protection in recent years. Included in the unique Eagle Standard, his company has developed a proprietary third-party glove testing program, Delta Zero, to ensure Eagle gloves are of the highest consistent standard of food safety — mitigating any glove risks to your business.

September 30, 2022

1. What does the Disposable Gloves FDA Food Compliance cover?

The FDA Food Compliance does not require gloves to be clean or intact (without holes). It is basically a chemical migration guideline and does not define clean or safe glove standards.

2. Who checks the gloves on arrival in the United States to ensure they meet these FDA standards?

Nobody! Gloves are rarely checked, if at all. We are relying on the factories in southeast Asia to comply voluntarily — an honor system basically. The system can be problematic. The recent media attention of rejected quality, fake and counterfeit gloves being sold in the U.S. only highlights this limited compliance check. During the height of the pandemic, a recent CNN investigation also found tens of millions of reused, visibly soiled gloves, many dirty and blood stained, reached the U.S. With an improved compliance system, this should not happen.

3. Are the current gloves coming into the U.S. safe?

In my opinion, there are significant risks. We know from independent research that in tests done on 2,800 new and unused gloves from 26 different brands, over 260 different viable pathogens were found, including Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella — name it, and it was there. In addition, they found human and animal fecal indicators on 69 percent of the gloves. Basically, seven of 10 gloves had fecal matter — yuck!

4. Are there enough microbes on these gloves to cause an outbreak?

Good question — the short answer is it is hard to know, and it’s very hard to trace back to gloves. Gloves are usually not tested as being the source of a recall. With better testing, we do know that toxic chemicals in gloves were responsible for a recall. So, our approach would be to ask the question, “Is using gloves with viable pathogens worth taking that risk?”

5. Why have we not heard of contaminated gloves before?

Gloves are almost invisible to most people, and no one has really thought about their risks. There is a big assumption that an unopened box of gloves must be clean — but they are not even required to be! I also think the glove industry has been lazy, generally just being box movers, which we do not consider ourselves to be. Rather, we offer the ultimate food safety protection with verified food safe, premium quality gloves.