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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Resources > Ask the Allergist

Does use of latex gloves in food preparation pose a danger?

Q. I read your article on latex gloves that states there is a hazard if people inhale the dust from latex gloves. Is there any danger to a student in a school cafeteria that eats food that is prepared by someone wearing latex gloves?

A. The hazards of latex exposure exist for those who are allergic to it, but not otherwise. Latex can be found in varying degrees in many products, but items such as powdered latex gloves and latex balloons are particularly high in content. If a person is allergic to latex, strict avoidance is best. Individual sensitivity can increase over time, causing an allergic reaction to smaller and smaller amounts of latex.

Interestingly, hospitals have moved away from using powdered latex gloves for a number of years, as these gloves were felt to increase the risk of latex allergy in workers. Since this shift, there have been fewer hospital workers developing latex allergy! In addition, other industries have moved toward less frequent use of powdered latex gloves, or began using non-latex gloves only, to reduce the risk.

To answer your question, yes, a person allergic to latex could definitely have an allergic reaction to food handled with latex gloves. Therefore, it would be best if no latex products were used to prepare food in this situation.