Latex, vinyl, or nitrile? When it comes to choosing disposable gloves, the type of disposable you choose can make a world of difference. Not all disposables are created equal and not knowing the differences can end up costing you a lot.

The most common and cost-effective form-fitting disposable glove is natural rubber latex, which offers many benefit, including good dexterity, tight fit, and tactile sensitivity. The problem with latex gloves (and other products made from latex) is that many people have developed allergies to this material and wearing them causes allergic reactions.

Vinyl disposable gloves are a popular alternative to latex, given their low cost. However, they lack the dexterity of latex and are prone to tearing. Given their low durability, vinyl gloves are limited to the applications in which they can be used, especially when it comes to food processing. In fact, this very publication has described them as “infection control nightmares.”  

For applications requiring durable, dexterous gloves, nitrile provides a great option. Although typically one of the more costly options, nitrile gloves are not only snug-fitting and comfortable to wear, but are also more durable and offer better dexterity than other disposable options.

You might be asking, “Who cares about durability, aren’t disposables meant to be disposed of?” This is true: Disposable gloves aren’t meant to last longer than a day, at most, with many applications requiring employees to change disposables several times per day. So why invest in more durable disposables, why not save money by buying the cheap, flimsy ones?

If you buy cheap disposable gloves for your food processing facility, you won’t run into problems the majority of the time, and you may save a little money. The issue is, when you do run into a problem, it’s a big one.

If you use vinyl gloves, the chance that those gloves are going to tear is almost 10 times higher than if you were using nitrile gloves. Workers with torn gloves may not even know their glove has torn, unintentionally exposing product to contamination hazards. What’s even worse than bare hands touching product is if when the glove tears, a piece falls off and ends up in the product, making its way surreptitiously down the production line and eventually to the customer.

Of course, a piece of glove reaching a customer is a public relations nightmare that keeps all food processors up at night, but there’s a lot at stake even if the piece of glove is caught before reaching the customer. Consider an employee that has been wearing the same disposable gloves for the past hour, working on a production line of product. The employee happens to turn his or her hand and notices a piece of their glove is missing. The production line shuts down immediately, but the employee has no idea when the tear might have occurred. All product that passed through the production line in the past hour must now be destroyed. In this scenario, the tear got caught in an hour, but imagine the costs if the tear wasn’t detected for 2, 3, or even 8 hours. The cost of those “economical” disposables is starting to add up.

Of course, that’s the scenario where the piece of glove is caught. What happens if the employee never notices the tear, throws their gloves out at the end of shift, and goes home? Now you’ve got the potential for a real disaster on your hands.

That’s a public relations nightmare no one wants to deal with, and it’s a common-enough occurrence that some vinyl gloves are made with metal-detectable capabilities, so errant glove pieces can be caught by a metal detector.

Great news, right? But why not really hedge your risk by using the stronger, more durable nitrile disposables with metal-detectable capabilities? The problem with that is, metal-detectable nitrile disposable gloves don’t exist. That is, they didn’t exist until now.

Renowned for innovations in hand and arm protection, Superior Glove Works set itself to the task of creating a nitrile disposable glove with metal-detectable capabilities. After spending over 2 years in development, Metal Head emerged as the first-ever nitrile disposable glove that is also metal-detectable.

Launched in early 2019, Metal Head is already well on its way to becoming one of Superior Glove’s best-selling gloves for the food processing industry. As a snug-fitting, comfortable, dexterous glove with the great durability of nitrile, it provides security in terms of contamination risk as well as comfort and performance for those wearing the gloves. With tensile strength far superior to that of vinyl, the chance of Metal Head tearing and winding up in a production line is much lower than with vinyl gloves and also offers the added protection of metal-detectability.

For those losing sleep over the possibility of a food contamination public relations nightmare, using Metal Head on your production line will put your mind at ease and get you that much needed sleep.

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