Latex Allergies — What Users Should Know
"Latex" refers to natural rubber latex, a product derived from the sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. Latex also contains proteins that can cause allergies. Mild reactions to latex involve skin redness, rash, hives, or itching. More severe reactions may involve respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and asthma. In rare cases, a small percentage of individuals may experience serious reactions, similar to those who experience acute allergic reactions to bee stings or shellfish.
The most prevalent way latex proteins enter the body is through the cornstarch powder. The latex proteins in the rubber attach themselves to the powder during the manufacturing process. When the powder becomes airborne (such as when removing the glove), it may be breathed into the lungs.
Reactions may also occur to chemicals used in manufacturing in the gloves, or simply to the powders added to them. Irritant contact dermatitis is the most common example, and is characterized by dry, itchy irritated areas on the skin, usually the hands. These conditions are not considered true latex allergies, but should be taken into consideration when choosing/providing gloves.
The best way to prevent such reactions is to not use latex gloves at all. Vinyl gloves, for example, are a good alternative to latex gloves, as well as gloves made of nitrile.
Another way to reduce risk is to use a powder-free, and if possible, powder-free chlorinated glove, which is usually yellowish or buff-colored (KingSeal powder free latex gloves are double-chlorinated). The chlorination process lowers the protein count substantially. For foodservice use, even poly gloves may provide enough protections to be a viable alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions - Gloves
Examination, or Medical-grade, gloves differ from Industrial grade gloves in that the former are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and are accepted for use by doctors, dentists, labs, or any other application requiring a specific barrier to blood or infectious agents. These gloves are regulated by stringent FDA requirements requiring specific production and quality control standards.
General purpose gloves are accepted (but not "approved" or "certified") for use in foodservice, industrial or any other application that does not require a specific barrier to blood or infectious agents. This is the most common glove found in the marketplace and popular uses include foodservice, packaging, automotive, painting and health & beauty.
Does the FDA or USDA officially certify gloves?
Neither the FDA nor the USDA officially "certifies" gloves for entry into the United States. What the FDA does require, however, is for all manufacturers of examination (medical grade) gloves to have 510(k) device listings on file with the agency. This means that the manufacturer has been tested and approved to manufacture gloves for medical use. This does not mean that the gloves themselves have been officially approved or certified for medical use.
Similarly, the USDA does not "officially certify" any disposable gloves as they enter U.S. ports. The USDA provides strict guidelines for the manufacture, storage and transport of gloves, and makes it incumbent upon the manufacturers and distributors to maintain the integrity of the goods. The USDA allows manufacturers and importers to list their goods as "accepted" (but not "approved") for foodservice use as long as the goods comply with their guidelines.
What is the difference between latex and vinyl gloves?
Latex gloves are manufactured from natural rubber latex derived from the sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. Because of the inherent elasticity of latex, the fit is more conforming and comfortable. However, natural rubber latex also contains proteins to which some users may be sensitive. While most allergies or sensitivities are generally slight, a very small percentage of users may experience severe reactions.
Vinyl gloves are manufactured from polyvinyl chloride, a petroleum-based compound. While not quite as form-fitting as latex gloves, they contain no proteins to irritate the skin. They also possess increased resistance to certain cleaning compounds and chemicals. Vinyl gloves are the preferred choice for users sensitive to latex.
While latex and vinyl both provide excellent barrier protection, latex is recognized as having superior barrier qualities. Some people still prefer the fit and form of latex, especially in applications where comfort and tactile sensitivity are paramount.
Why use latex gloves that are powder-free?
While powdered gloves constitute the majority of gloves in use, many users have become concerned about allergies to the latex proteins inherent in latex gloves. Consequently, many are turning to powder free latex gloves as an alternative, particularly powder-free gloves that are chlorinated. In fact, OSHA recommends that for workers who must use or prefer latex gloves, they should choose powder free gloves with the lowest protein count possible.
KingSeal powder-free latex gloves have a lower protein particle count due to a special chlorination process specifically designed to reduce protein levels. This chlorination process is what gives our gloves a yellow, or buff-colored hue.
Frequently Asked Questions - General
Can end-users buy directly from Wesco?
Since we import our products direct in container quantities, we focus our resources on distributors. If we cannot refer you to a distributor in your area, we may help service your request directly. Any orders must be processed in full case quantities only (see items for case pack information). Please contact us @ email@example.com.
Are Wesco's products USDA approved?
All of Wesco's products are manufactured of USDA accepted materials, from gloves to toothpicks to poly bags. It is important to note, however, that the USDA does not officially "approve" or "certify" disposables for entry into the United States. Instead, the USDA has established guidelines that govern the materials, manufacturing, and distribution of goods used in foodservice. All of Wesco's products meet or exceed these guidelines.
Where do your products come from?
Wesco's goods are imported from Asia. Our woodenware products are typically imported from China and Southeast Asia. Our disposable gloves are imported from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Thailand. We also import products from other countries such as South Korea.
Does Wesco provide private label or custom print products?
Yes. Wesco has many years of expertise in both areas and a significant portion of our business is built around private labeling for large distributors or corporations. For distributors or chains interested in private labeling, we can provide a comprehensive, competitive program built around your brand or corporate identity. For smaller users interested in custom printing (for example, t-shirt bags or chopsticks) let us know your needs and we will be happy to send you a quote.
What if I need something I can't find on your website?
Please contact us and we will help track down the items for you! We will do our best to help you find the products you need, whether you purchase them from us or from a competitor. Over the years, we have been able to provide many products for our distributor customers that are found outside our general product mix. Please send in a request.