Your kitchen towels could hold bacteria that cause food poisoning, study suggests

Your kitchen towels could hold bacteria that cause food poisoning, study suggests

Having meats in the kitchen increases the risk of having unhygienic tea towels, it seems.

Of the 49 towels showing bacterial growth, nearly three-quarters grew bacteria normally found in the intestines, such as E. coli and Enterococcus species.

In addition, towels used for multiple purposes - including wiping utensils, drying hands and wiping surfaces - grew more bacteria than towels used for a single goal, the researchers found.

Out of all the kitchen towels collected for the study, 49 percent had bacterial growth which increased with an increase in the number of family members, the presence of children and extended family.

All of the bugs can cause food poisoning, with E.coli most likely to cause tummy pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea. Diet was also an important factor; families on non-vegetarian diets had higher prevalence of coliform and S. aureus detection.

"In this study, we investigated the potential role of kitchen towels in cross-contamination in the kitchen and various factors affecting the microbial profile and load of kitchen towels", said Dr. Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, Senior Lecturer, Department of Health Sciences, University of Mauritius, lead author on the study.

Scientists concluded that using disposable, single-use paper towels for kitchen towels was a more hygienic option.

The findings are consistent with previous research showing that towels and other kitchen items can be reservoirs for bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. The presence of Escherichia coli was said to indicate a possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices such as washing hands.

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The USDA also recommends taking several precautions when preparing food in the kitchen in order to prevent the spread of germs that could make you or your family sick.

They found staphylococcus was more likely to be found on towels from families with children and of lower socio-economic status.

"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of towels should be discouraged", Biranjia-Hurdoyal said in a statement.

Your dish cloth is also the flawless place for bacteria to breed.

Researchers found bacteria growth, including E.coli, developed on cloths that were used multiple times.

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.

Out of these 49 samples positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 per cent grew coliforms, 36.7 per cent Enterococcus spp and 14.3 per cent S aureus. But "it doesn't surprise me at all that something that's in a kitchen environment has bacteria on it".

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