I go into work at the hotel tonight (I'm working the food shift) and I find latex gloves .... the kind with powder inside ..... on the shelf. I'm told that we ran out of other gloves and this is what the mgr brought in. My first thought is "I hope no one here has a latex allergy!" My 2nd thought is "does food touched by latex affect anyone who eats that food?"
Lo and behold the girl assigned to work with me tonight has a latex allergy so she can't do anything that requires gloves. She also tells me she saw our breakfast staff using these gloves to set out doughnuts and said, "If I had eaten one of those, my throat would have swelled up."
Question for those with this allergy: Is this a REALLY big concern that I need to elevate up the ladder to get these gloves out of the kitchen? How 'dangerous' is food that is handled by latex gloved hands? Am I being over concerned over something that is ok and safe?
Appreciate any info, pro or con, on the use of these gloves in a commercial kitchen. Thanks in advance.
As a person who has a latex allergy my answer to you is yes, remove them from use immediately. Climb whatever ladder you have to. There are mild reactions and severe reactions. Sometimes it only causes a slight skin irratation but there are those that are so sensative to latex that the reaction your co-worker described can happen. I myself get a severe burn type reaction from latex, very painful, I can't even imagine that in my throat, lungs or stomach from eating food handled with latex gloves. I bought undies once that the elastic in them had latex, you can guess what happened. (Stop laughing!! I can hear you!!) Anyway, it was very painful!
According to Wikipedia the short answer is yes some people will have a reaction to foods that have come into contact with latex gloves. The longer answer has to do with the comparative rarity of such a severe sensitivity. On balance, as someone who is latex allergic but has never has a reaction to food touched by latex, I still wouldn't take a chance in a commercial setting. Lawyers are sometimes made rich by those who play the odds.
Here is some information of latex allergies, kind of long.
If you're allergic to latex, you're likely to react after being in contact with the latex in rubber gloves or by inhaling airborne latex particles, which can be released when latex gloves are removed. Signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the degree of your sensitivity and to the amount of latex allergen to which you're exposed. Your reaction can worsen with repeated exposure to latex.
Mild latex allergy symptoms include:
Hives or rash
Latex allergy symptoms that are more severe include:
Itchy, watery eyes
Anaphylactic shock symptoms
The most serious allergic reaction to latex is an anaphylactic (an-uh-fuh-LAK-tik) response, which can be deadly. It's rarely the first reaction to latex exposure. Anaphylactic reactions develop immediately after latex exposure in highly sensitive people. Signs and symptoms include:
Drop in blood pressure
Loss of consciousness
Rapid or weak pulse
Blueness of your skin, including your lips and nail beds
Nausea and vomiting
When to see a doctor
Seek emergency medical care if you think you're having an anaphylactic reaction.
If you have less severe reactions after exposure to latex, talk to your doctor. If possible, see your doctor when you're having a reaction, which will aid in making a diagnosis. Also, talk to your doctor if you're in a high-risk category, such as having multiple surgeries.
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Irritant contact dermatitis (A) produces red, dry itchy patches usually on the hands, fingers and face. Common irritants include soap, detergents and skin-cleaning products. Allergic contact dermatitis (B) produces a red rash, bumps and sometimes blisters.
Contact dermatitisIn a latex allergy, your immune system identifies latex as a harmful substance. Your immune system triggers certain cells to produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to fight the latex component (the allergen). The next time you come in contact with latex, the IgE antibodies sense it and signal your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream. The more exposure you have, the more your immune system is likely to respond to latex (sensitization).
These chemicals cause a range of allergic signs and symptoms. Histamine is partly responsible for most allergic responses.
Latex sensitivity can occur in these ways:
Direct contact. The most common cause of latex allergy is direct contact with latex, such as by wearing latex gloves or by touching other latex-containing products.
Inhalation. You can develop a latex allergy by inhaling latex particles. Latex products, especially gloves, shed latex particles, which can become airborne. Cornstarch is sometimes used on the inside of gloves to make them easier to put on and remove. The cornstarch absorbs latex proteins, but when the gloves are snapped during application or removal, the latex-laden particles fly into the air. The amount of airborne latex from gloves differs greatly depending on the brand of glove used.
True latex allergy, known as hypersensitivity immune system response, occurs when your immune system reacts to proteins found in natural rubber latex. Signs and symptoms develop immediately after contact.
However, it's also possible to have other reactions to latex, which aren't always allergies to the latex itself. They include:
Allergic contact dermatitis. This is a reaction to the chemical additives used during the manufacturing process. Signs and symptoms usually a skin rash similar to that of poison ivy, including blisters develop 24 to 48 hours after contact.
Irritant contact dermatitis. Not an allergy, this form of dermatitis most likely is an irritation caused by wearing rubber gloves or exposure to the powder inside them. Signs and symptoms include dry, itchy, irritated areas, usually on the hands.
Types of latex
Manufacturers produce two types of products from natural latex sources:
Hardened rubber. This type of latex is found in products such as athletic shoes, tires and rubber balls. Hardened rubber doesn't cause allergies in most people.
Dipped latex. Latex of this kind is found in some products that are stretchy, such as rubber gloves, balloons and condoms. Most allergic reactions to latex occur with products made of dipped latex because they're often used directly on the skin.
Other rubber. Rarely, some people who are sensitive to latex also may react to other rubber products, including erasers, rubber toy parts, rubber bands, rubber in medical devices and rubber in the elastic in clothing.
Not all latex products are made from natural sources. Products containing man-made (synthetic) latex, such as latex paint, are unlikely to cause a reaction because they don't contain the natural substance.
Thousands of consumer products contain latex or rubber, and many are found around the home. Common latex products include:
Waistbands on clothing
Hot water bottles
Baby bottle nipples
Motorcycle and bicycle handgrips
Latex products are also found in health care settings. However, because of the problem of latex allergy, many health care facilities use nonlatex gloves. Other medical products that may contain latex or rubber include:
Blood pressure cuffs
It isn't clear why some people develop allergies while others don't. However, certain people are at greater risk of developing a latex allergy:
Children with spina bifida. The risk of latex allergy is highest in children with spina bifida a birth defect that affects the development of the spine. Children with this disorder often are exposed to latex products through early and frequent health care. About half of children with spina bifida may be allergic to latex.
People with urinary tract abnormalities present at birth (congenital). Like children with spina bifida, people with congenital urinary tract problems are exposed to latex products through early and frequent health care.
People who undergo multiple surgeries or medical procedures. Repeated exposure to latex gloves increases your risk of developing latex allergy.
Health care workers. If you work in the health care field, your chances of developing an allergy are higher. The signs and symptoms of latex allergy may be similar to those of occupational asthma, a lung disease caused by inhaling workplace substances.
Rubber industry workers. Repeated exposure to latex may increase sensitivity.
People with a family history of allergies. You're at increased risk of latex allergy if other allergies, such as hay fever or hives, are common in your family.
Connection between food allergy and latex allergy
Latex allergy also is related to certain foods. Foods such as avocados, bananas, chestnuts, kiwis and passion fruits contain some of the same allergens found in latex. If you're allergic to latex, you have a greater chance of also being allergic to these foods.
I do know for a fact that someone with severe enough latex/powder allergies can actually have an allergic reaction to fondant kneeded by someone wearing latex gloves. Also, if you ever have a mild reaction to latex gloves...such as mild itching on your hands...you can have ever increasing reactions with each new exposure.
You guys are great!
While the risks will vary depending on the level of allergy, you all are right ... the risk is still there. I just called the hotel and talked to one of the asst managers and told her to "get those gloves the hell out of that kitchen!" She's on her way back to trash them right now!
I knew I could get the straight scoop from fellow CC'ers!
I am so glad you took the time to ask. Most people wouldn't even bother. My brother has a serious allergy to latex. Any little bit could be very bad for him to be around. I just want to say thank you for not shrugging it off as no big deal.
So glad you posted this question. I've wondered about it too, but never remember about asking when I'm on CC. I was using vinyl gloves for coloring fondant, but I don't like that they leak easy. Plus they're stinky. I've stayed away from latex assuming it could be a problem. Now I just use those loose fitting, thin plastic type of gloves. They're a little weird when you're kneading fondant, but they seem to be the best choice.