Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce. When placing a food order, you may need to also include “hold the latex.”
Millions of people allergic to latex are aware of the risks when dining out, whereas many are unaware they have an allergy to latex. Food prepared with latex gloves places patrons at high risk of an allergic reaction that can be life threatening.
Latex gloves present a hidden danger in food preparation since latex proteins shed from the gloves onto the food, according to The American Allergy Association. Consuming food that contains latex proteins for someone with a latex allergy can cause anaphylactic shock and possible death.
Many states have banned the use of latex gloves in their restaurants and food establishments as a preventive public health measure. Restaurant staff using latex gloves, especially powdered latex gloves, place them at risk of developing a latex allergy, for which there is no cure.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) post safety guidelines in reference to preventing latex allergies and safety precautions on their websites. Employees who develop an allergy to latex in the workplace are entitled to workers compensation and disability benefits. Despite the fact many states have passed Latex Legislation Laws, Florida representatives continue to refuse or debate the need for latex glove legislation in Florida.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association prefer a clean hands technique over any glove use, but the organization has not enforced one method over the other, leaving the decision up to restaurant owners. However, many restaurant owners, chefs and managers make the needed changes after learning of the possible health risks associated with latex glove use. I hope that informative pieces like this reach 30A restaurants that presently use latex gloves and assist in a policy change.
Sylvia Williams is a public health practitioner who lives in Destin.