Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Your Dish Towels Can Cause Food Poisoning, Here's Why

Samantha Long | 14 June, 2018, 21:30

But it's not just the use of tea towels in the kitchen that can increase the risk of food poisoning.

The scientists found that the number of bacteria grew with the increasing family size, for example in the presence of children or extended family.

The researchers found that 49 percent of the kitchen towels had bacterial growth.

"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 Susheela D Biranjia-Hurdoyal from University of Mauritius, lead author on the study.

They found, 49 per cent had bacterial growth, with 36.7 per cent growing coliform bacteria, a group which includes E. coli. About 14 percent grew Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, a bacterium that's sometimes found on people's skin.

Additionally, a 2015 US study that looked at kitchen health conditions in 100 Philadelphia homes found that almost half had at least one foodborne disease-causing organism, such as E. coli.

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"Staph is found on the hands and can cause foodborne infection by producing a toxin outside the body".

The researchers also found that the type and amount of bacteria differed based on a family's size, socioeconomic status and type of diet. The risk for E. coli was higher in damp towels than dry ones, from towels used for several jobs rather than single-use ones, and from those used in non-vegetarian households. "Cutting boards and tabletops used for food prep are of concern and need to be cleaned regularly and dried".

The towels for multi-purpose usage - wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces - had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels, and humid towels showed higher bacterial count than the dry ones.

But there is a danger of using dish towels, as a new research suggest it can be the very factor that causes food poisoning.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta last week, collected 100 kitchen towels that had been in use for a month.

"Furthermore, reusing contaminated towels to wipe hands or other surfaces can easily lead to cross-contamination, and therefore should not be reused throughout meal preparation, since they too can contribute to contamination of hands, surfaces or other food products", Sauer said.

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