Illinois sunsets restaurants' use of latex gloves

Establishments will have until January to find alternatives, with one narrow exception.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants in Illinois will have until January to provide gloved employees with alternatives to latex versions of the hand coverings, the result of an allergy precaution signed into law by Gov. Jay Pritzker.

As of 2023, latex gloves will only be permitted for use by foodservice workers if non-latex versions are unavailable. In those situations, the establishment is required to post prominent warnings for guests.

The measure is intended to protect employees and consumers who are allergic to latex. Some individuals are so sensitive to the material that they can have a reaction to food that was handled by someone wearing latex gloves.

“They now are able to do something many of us may take for granted: Go out to eat with their family and friends without the paralyzing fear of a severe allergic reaction secondary to their food being handled by latex gloves," said allergist, immunologist and physician Priya Bansal in Pritzker’s printed announcement of the new law.

In addition, the virtual elimination of latex gloves from kitchens and dining rooms could shield restaurant employees from developing an allergy. Frequent exposure to the material has been known to trigger an intolerance.

The virtual ban also extends to healthcare workers. However, their employers have until Jan. 4, 2024, to find alternatives.

Less than 1% of the U.S. population is allergic to latex, a natural barrier derived from rubber trees, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The reactions can range from irritation to anaphylaxis, a reaction that itself can vary from hives to potentially fatal changes in blood pressure.

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