Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Kitchen Towels Are Source of Possibly Pathogenic Bacteria

Kitchen Towels Are Source of Possibly Pathogenic Bacteria

The researchers recommended against multipurpose usage of kitchen towels and said that larger families "should be especially vigilant [when it comes] to hygiene in the kitchen", lead study author Dr. Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, a senior lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Mauritius, said in a statement.

Repeated use of tea towels is putting households at risk of food poisoning, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and even meningitis, a new study suggests. It was found almost half of the towels (49 percent) had bacterial growth. The towels that were used for multiple purposes like wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces, etc., had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels. This bacterium, as well as coliforms, were also more likely to reside on towels used by families with non-vegetarian diets.

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

Scientists carrying out the research grew cultures from bacteria found on tea towels to identify them and determine the bacteria load.

The research was presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held from June 7th to June 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.

To keep germs from spreading, health experts recommend washing or changing kitchen towels, sponges, and oven gloves regularly and letting them dry before using them again.

Ever wonder how much bacteria is growing on your kitchen towel?

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen", Biranjia-Hurdoyal says. Escherichia coli is a prominent member of this coliform bacterial group. But the study found E.coli was more likely to develop on cloths that had been used and then left damp. Diet was also an important factor; families on non-vegetarian diets had higher prevalence of coliform and S. aureus detection.

The study further states that staphylococcus aureus was isolated at a higher rate from families of lower socio-economic status and those with children.

The scientists took samples from the towels - which had been used, without being washed, for one month - and cultured, or grew, these samples in lab dishes.

The presence of potential pathogens from the kitchen towels indicates that they could lead to food poisoning through cross-contamination.

Prepare to be disgusted by what can be found in your kitchen.

But Ms Moir warned that while paper towel could minimise the food poisoning risk, they are less environmentally friendly.

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