Kitchen towels can harbor disgusting bacteria

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A new study finds that kitchen towels can harbor harmful pathogens that could potentially lead to food poisoning.

She said: "If people use tea towels appropriately in the kitchen then there will be a minimal food poisoning risk to the consumer". Compared with single-use towels, multipurpose towels had higher colony-forming units (CFUs); humid towels had higher CFUs than dry ones. Humid towels also showed a higher bacterial count when compared to the dry ones.

Out of the remaining towels that tested positive for bacterial presence, 36.7 percent towels contained coliform bacteria while the rest 36.7 percent contained enterococcus spp and remaining 14.3 contained staphylococcus aureus.

For the study, the researchers gathered 100 kitchen towels from families.

The tea towel you used to dry the dishes last night is likely harbouring bacteria that could increase your risk of suffering a nasty case of food poisoning, according to a new study.


"Kitchen towels won't necessarily make you sick", he said, "but they are a reservoir for these organisms that can sometimes be problematic".

"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels", said lead author Susheela D Biranjia-Hurdoyal, senior lecturer, at the University of Mauritius.

Avoid using tea towels as a "hand towel" after washing your hands or to dry benchtops - keep a separate towel in the kitchen for that goal.

The virus is more likely to be present in damp towels or the ones which are used in households with non-vegetarian diets.

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen", Biranjia-Hurdoyal said.


Moreover, the coliform bacteria and staphylococcus aureus were discovered to have a higher prevalence in towels collected from households eating non-vegetarian meals.

S. aureus was isolated at a higher rate from families of lower socio-economic status and those with children.

What were the kinds of bacteria found on the towels?

Only use tea towels on clean, washed dishes. The presence of Escherichia coli indicates possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices.

He said, "The key advice is to remain attentive to food safety when preparing food in the home, which includes proper hand-washing, avoiding cross-contamination, and cooking and storing foods at the right temperatures". "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", suggests Biranjia-Hurdoyal. Critical observations of the research conclude that multiple uses of the towels may give rise to cross-contamination by potential pathogens.


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