Kitchen tea towels can cause food poisoning

Henrietta Strickland
June 12, 2018

Several factors - including diet, family size and usage - influence the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels, the scientists said in a statement.

University of Mauritius have found that E. coli, a common stomach upset bug, is found abundantly in tea towels that are used for multiple purposes in the kitchens.

If you wipe a floor spillage with a tea towel, the advice is to put that in the wash instead of then using it to dry cutlery.

Kitchen towels can harbor pathogens that may cause food poisoning, findings of new study have revealed.

Non-vegetarian diets were found to increase the risk of contamination by bacteria such as E. coli.

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. This new study complicates that advice, suggesting it's not just how often you wash your towels, but also how you use them that determines how dirty they get and how often they should be swapped.

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

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.

Nearly half the towels had bacteria growing on them - and unsurprisingly, towels used repeatedly and those that were damp were more likely to become microbe havens.

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

If you have any old towels these animals would love to use them2.

All three food poisoning bugs, which can be fatal for the elderly, were much more prevalent among meat-eating families.

The team is presenting the results of their work at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, Georgia.

"However, even when provided with disposable single-use paper towels, participants were still observed using these in a way that led to additional contamination of contact surfaces", he noted. The presence of Escherichia coli was said to indicate a possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices such as washing hands.

She said that these results show bad handling of non-vegetarian foods in the kitchen.

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