Kitchen Towels Are Source of Possibly Pathogenic Bacteria

Desiree Burns
June 14, 2018

The study looked at how factors such as family size, typical diet, and kitchen towel usage by type and frequency impacted the growth of bacteria as a precursor to food poisoning. "We also found that diet, type of use and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning".

"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, senior lecturer of health sciences at the University of Mauritius and a lead author on the study presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. S. aureus is a bacteria found in the respiratory tract. "But there are specific types that can cause problems, like the ones recently found on romaine lettuce".

Whether it's prepping food, cooking or baking, it's always handy to have a dish towel in your kitchen to wipe that grease off the stove, or dry your wet hands - and most women who spend time in this area of the house would agree.

"Staph is found on the hands and can cause foodborne infection by producing a toxin outside the body". Researchers then cultured the bacteria for testing.

The researchers found that 49 percent of the kitchen towels had bacterial growth, which increased significantly by size of family, extended family, and presence of children.

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The risk of having coliforms (Escherichia coli) was higher from humid towels than the dried ones, from multipurpose towels than single-use ones and from families on non-vegetarian diets.

Forty-nine percent of the kitchen towels collected for the study were laden with bacteria, and the bacterial count increased with the number of family members and kids, researchers from the Indian Ocean island/nation of Mauritius reported.

For the study, Biranjia-Hurdoyal and her colleagues sampled 100 kitchen towels that had been used for one 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. That means changing and washing tea towels regularly, and using disposable cloths or paper towels for cleaning, BBC reports.

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