Illinois Bans Latex Gloves for Food Service Workers

The law took effect on January 1st for restaurants and food service providers. The ban will affect healthcare workers starting January 1, 2024.

Key takeaways:

Latex is a protein derived from the sap of rubber trees found in Africa or Southeast Asia. Many commonly used products are made of latex, including elastic, medical gloves, and bandages.

People with a latex allergy can have reactions ranging from a mild rash to a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. A severe reaction can lead to life-threatening symptoms such as breathing difficulties, swelling of the throat, and loss of consciousness.

Data estimates indicate that 4% of the general population worldwide has a latex allergy. Because latex is present in many commonly used items, including gloves worn for medical procedures, exposure can occur when a person undergoes medical examinations. Exposure can also happen in other places where latex gloves are used, like restaurants.

To prevent accidental exposure, some states have enacted bans on latex gloves. For example, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Oregon have latex glove bans.

Now, Illinois has joined the list with the Public Health (410 ILCS 180/) Latex Glove Ban Act.

On and after January 1, 2023, a food service establishment may not permit employees to use latex gloves in the preparation and handling of food. If latex gloves must be used in the preparation of food due to a crisis that interrupts a food service establishment's ability to source non-latex gloves, a sign shall be prominently placed at the point of order or point of purchase clearly notifying the public of the temporary change.

Public Health (410 ILCS 180/) Latex Glove Ban Act

In addition, the law prohibits the use of latex gloves by healthcare personnel starting January 1, 2024.

However, like the food service ban, there will be exceptions in a crisis situation when no other glove options are available.

Alternatives to latex include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nitrile, or polyurethane. Most of these products are widely available to the public.

In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medical gloves as Class I reserved medical devices to ensure they meet performance standards. The agency also requires manufacturers to identify on package labeling if their product contains latex.

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