Kitchen Towels Are Source of Possibly Pathogenic Bacteria

Do you know what's growing on your kitchen towel

Do you know what's growing on your kitchen towel

Factors such as family size, type of diet, multi-usage of towels, among other factors and their impact on the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels was studied by researchers from the University of Mauritius which has led them to the conclusion that they can cause food poisoning.

The microbiologists found that roughly half of the 100 towels were growing risky microbes, including the potentially infection-inducing Staphylococcus (also known as "staph") and E. coli.

Every time you reuse that cloth you are wiping bacteria across your kitchen bench.

Baughn also notes it's important to remember that if you cut yourself while cooking, don't grab that kitchen towel you used to dry food or clean potentially contaminated surfaces.

"Cross-contamination is happening in the kitchen, and those bacteria could reach our food and cause food poisoning", said lead researcher Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged".

Coliforms (Escherichia coli) was found to be higher in humid towels, multipurpose towels and in towels from families having non-vegetarian diets.

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Experts found the issue was worst among large families, meat-eaters and those who use towels for multiple purposes such as wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot items and wiping surfaces. Of the 49 samples that tested positive: "36.7 per cent grew coliforms (E. coli), 36.7 per cent Enterococcus spp and 14.3 per cent S. aureus".

Half of tea towels analysed contained bacteria, with big families and meat eaters facing increased danger.

Higher rates of S. aureus were found among low-income families and those with children, the findings showed.

The virus is more likely to be present in damp towels or the ones which are used in households with non-vegetarian diets.

For the study, researchers handed out 100 fresh kitchen towels to people and sent them home to use the rags for a one-month study period. But just how often do you need to swap them out? All surfaces should be cleaned after use and most importantly hands should be washed before preparation of food and after handling raw meat, fish, eggs or poultry. The presence of Escherichia coli indicates possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices.

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen", Dr Biranjia-Hurdoyal said. Hygiene maintenance is vital for families that have more members or have children and elderly she said. The more you use a paper towel, the higher the odds germs spread.

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