Beware, your kitchen towel can give you food poisoning

Modesto Morganelli
Giugno 12, 2018

Having meats in the kitchen increases the risk of having unhygienic tea towels, it seems. Escherichia coli is a normal flora of human intestine and it is released in large numbers in human faeces.

The more children a family had, the more likely the sample was to contain bacteria - and towels used for multiple purposes, such as holding hot items and wiping surfaces, were the worst.

Forty-nine percent of the kitchen towels collected in the study had bacterial growth that increased in number with extended family, presence of children and increasing family size. The study didn't find any of the common culprits of foodborne illness, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter or pathogenic types of E. coli, such as E. coli O157:H7, he noted.

And now, if you needed a reason to launder your trusty tea towels more regularly, scientists from the University of Mauritius have provided one.

Kitchen towels may harbor risky bacteria such as e.coli from human feces that can cause food poisoning. 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. While it's true that a new study did find that kitchen towels aren't exactly bastions of cleanliness, you don't necessarily need to forever banish them to the deepest, darkest pits of hell.

Towels that were damp showed higher bacterial counts than dry ones, and S. aureus was more likely to be found on towels from bigger families and those of lower socioeconomic status.

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

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

Of those, 49 tested positive for bacterial growth, with 36 per cent contaminated with E.coli, 36 per cent contaminated with Enterococcus spp and 14 per cent with Staphylococcus aureus.

For the study, Biranjia-Hurdoyal and her colleagues sampled 100 kitchen towels that had been used for one month. Bacteria also marked their presence on towels with traces of meat on it.

Researchers analyzed 100 towels after one month of use and found that almost half had bacterial growth.

"It doesn't surprise me at all that something that's in a kitchen environment has bacteria on it". The more you use a paper towel, the higher the odds germs spread.

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