Kitchen Towels Laden With Bacteria

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Factors, including family size, type of diet, multi-usage of towels, impact the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels, potentially causing food poisoning, says researchers from the University of Mauritius.

"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. The study found that 49 percent of the towels tested positive for bacteria and that the amount of bacteria was higher for towels used by large families or families with children, compared with towels used by smaller families or families without children.

Their research discovered E. coli was more likely to be found on tea towels used for more than one job, including cleaning surfaces and wiping utensils, as well as drying hands.

The government recommends washing or changing tea towels, sponges, dish cloths and oven gloves regularly and letting them dry before re-using them.

When is the last time you washed your kitchen towels?

Your kitchen towel may harbor a number of different bacteria, a new study finds.

Your dish cloth is also the ideal place for bacteria to breed. Because they are used for various purposes, they tend to help spread the bacteria to different surfaces and areas in the house leading to food poisoning, the researchers explain.

For the study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Georgia, the team collected total of 100 kitchen towels after one month of use.

Of the 49 towels that carried pathogens, nearly three-quarters grew coliform bacteria (a type that may include E. coli); 36.7 percent grew Enterococcus; and 14.3 percent grew staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph that can cause serious infections. The study found E coli was more likely to develop on towels that had been left to sit damp, while coliforms and S aureus bacteria were detected at significantly higher rates in households with non-vegetarian diets.

The towels incurred from the meat-eating houses showed a higher prevalence of Coliforms along with the Staphylococcus.

Use paper towels once. This could happen if, for instance, someone used a kitchen towel to wipe up meat juices from the counter and another person unknowingly used the towel to dry their hands, Chapman said. "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", suggests Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

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