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Essential PPE in the Food Industry: What You Need to Know

Overwhelmed by PPE options for food safety? Master your PPE selection for food workers safety with these practical tips.

Are you part of the food industry as a restaurateur, a restaurant manager, or are you perhaps tasked with procurement for a food processing plant? 

If so, you’re surely aware of the stringent regulations surrounding the usage of personal protective equipment, also simply known as PPE. These laws are designed to shield your workers from many hazards (like cuts, burns, chemicals, and infections) but to also prevent food contamination. 

That being said, navigating the extensive array of PPE options available on the market can be a daunting task, leaving you wondering which ones are the right fit for your specific use cases.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your workers safe and healthy – from identify the specific hazard they face to how to properly use, maintain and dispose of their PPE.

Here are the topics we will cover:

  1. What PPE is Required in the Food Industry?
  2. What Is The Proper Use Of PPE In The Food Industry?
  3. Top FAQs On PPE In Food Processing
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The food industry is one of the most regulated industries due to its potential risks to public health.

What PPE is Required in the Food Industry?

The food industry is one of the most regulated due to its potential risks to public health and many hazards workers face on a daily basis.

This is why, every decision concerning the best type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for your restaurant or food processing plant should go well beyond simply opting for the cheapest or most popular options available. Guaranteeing the safety and well-being of your workforce demands a deliberate assessment of your workplace’s specific requirements and potential hazards.

For instance, if your team handles chemicals or potent cleaning agents, relying on standard-issue gloves and aprons may not provide adequate protection. Moreover, when your workers are confronted with chemicals that are particularly heavy or have the potential to splash, the enhanced coverage offered by a face shield and respirators surpasses the conventional protection of safety glasses and single-use face masks. 

So, what are the main risks workers face in a food processing area?

  • Chemical Handling: If your operations involve the use of cleaning agents or chemicals, you must equip your workers with chemical-resistant gloves and aprons. These protective equipement safeguards them against potential skin irritation or harmful chemical exposure. Also, depending on the specific tasks, you might need to go beyond standard safety face protection (masks and safety glasses). For example, when handling certain types of chemicals that can splash, a full-face shield provides comprehensive protection for the eyes, face, and neck.

  • Heat and Fire Hazards: In kitchens or food processing areas, the risk of burns from hot surfaces or open flames is always a concern. The right flame-resistant clothing, heat-resistant gloves, and aprons can mitigate these risks effectively.

  • Slippery Surfaces: In areas where liquids or food spills are common, the risk of slip and fall accidents is high. To address this, your workers should wear non-slip footwear designed for wet surfaces. Additionally, consider providing slip-resistant mats in work areas.

  • Knives and sharp objects: Working with sharp knives and cutting tools can lead to accidental cuts and injuries. That’s why restaurant workers should wear the right cut-resistant gloves to protect their hands from potential lacerations. If you want to learn more about choosing the right cut protection gloves for your use cases, check our article: How To Choose Cut-Resistant Gloves

As a last note, if you operate in the European Union it’s important to adhere to the safety standards and regulations set forth by the EU. You can read more about those in our article: A Look at Industrial PPE Regulations in the EU.

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Browse our extensive catalogue of PPE supplies for food manufacturing!

What Is The Proper Use Of PPE In The Food Industry?

Selecting suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) marks the initial step in a comprehensive safety strategy. The true effectiveness of the PPE you choose for your workforce also hinges on its correct usage, regular maintenance, and the ability of your workers to identify when replacement is necessary.

Here are some practical best practices to guarantee PPE is used, maintained, and disposed of correctly: 

  • Appropriate and Consistent Use of PPE: The first step is ensuring that PPE is used consistently and appropriately for each specific task. In a food handling environment, this typically includes gloves, aprons, hair nets, face masks, and eye protection. Each type of PPE serves a specific purpose, from preventing contamination to protecting workers from hazards. For a more in-depth look at the different types of PPE products available for your workers, check our article: How to Buy the Best Personal Protective Equipment for Food Workers

  • Proper Fit and Comfort: The functionality of PPE significantly depends on its fit. For instance, gloves should be snug yet comfortable, providing full coverage of the hands. Similarly, masks and goggles should fit well to effectively protect without causing discomfort or hindering movement.

  • Adherence to Correct Procedures: Follow guidelines for proper donning and removing of PPE. This includes following hygiene protocols, like washing hands before and after using PPE. For example, the correct removal of gloves is important to avoid cross-contamination, emphasizing the need for proper training and practice.
  • Maintenance and Disposal of PPE: The correct maintenance of PPE is as important as its use. This means regularly cleaning and inspecting reusable PPE, following the manufacturer’s guidelines, and properly disposing of single-use items. For example, gloves should be removed carefully to avoid touching the outside of the glove and then disposed of in a waste bin.

  • Training for Effective PPE Use: Some PPE, such as respirators, may require specialized training. Always provide your workers with comprehensive instruction on the proper use and limitations of their protective equipment items.

For more information on how to properly utilise, maintain and dispose of your PPE read our article: From Usage to Disposal: A Complete Guide to PPE Procedures.

Top FAQs On PPE In Food Processing

Here are all your most frequently asked questions on PPE in the food industry: 

  1. What type of gloves should be used in the food industry? Nitrile gloves are the most commonly used gloves in the food industry as they are quite resistant to light punctures and tears, and do not contain natural rubber proteins that can cause allergic reactions. To learn more, read our article: Choosing the Right Food Service Gloves.
  1. What should I do if my PPE is damaged or torn? Damaged or torn PPE should be replaced immediately to guarantee continued protection.

  2. What should I do if my PPE gets wet or contaminated? Wet or contaminated PPE should be removed immediately and replaced with clean, dry PPE to ensure continued protection.

  3. Can I reuse PPE? It depends on the type of PPE and the specific task being performed. Some types of PPE, such as disposable gloves, are intended for single use and should be disposed of after each use. Other types of PPE, such as aprons and face shields, can be reused if properly cleaned and maintained according to safety standards and manufacturer instructions.

  4. How often should PPE be replaced? The frequency of PPE replacement depends on the type of PPE and the specific task being performed. In general, PPE should be replaced when it becomes damaged, worn, or contaminated.

  5. Can PPE be shared between workers? In general, PPE should not be shared between workers as this can increase the risk of contamination and infection. Each worker should have their own designated set of PPE.

  6. What is the proper way to store PPE? PPE should be stored in a clean, dry area that is protected from sunlight and other sources of contamination. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for storage to ensure that PPE remains effective and in good condition.
Browse our extensive catalogue of PPE supplies for food manufacturing!


Whether you’re a restaurateur, a restaurant manager, or a professional buyer for a food processing plant you know that personal protective equipment is a critical component of any food industry safety program. 

When you learn to identify the right PPE and make sure your workers know how to use it, maintain it, and dispose of it, you will exponentially reduce the risk of injury and food contamination. 

Next, remember to check out our extensive catalogue of PPE supplies for food manufacturing from Europe’s top vetted suppliers – or click on the following PPE categories for quickly accessing exactly what you need:

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May 10, 2024

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