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Do you know what’s growing on your kitchen towel?

12 June 2018

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

The BBC also reported lead author Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal as saying: "The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen". Out of 100 towels collected for the study, the researchers found that 49 percent contained bacterial growth and the figure increased in the families that had more of members, presence of kids and increasing family size. They discovered that the E. coli virus was more likely to be present in the towels used for multiple tasks in the kitchen like cleaning the surfaces, drying out the hands and wiping the utensils.

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

S. aureus was more prevalent in families of lower socioeconomic status and those with children.

Can kitchen towels cause food poisoning or illnesses?

A new study explored the kind of bacteria likely to reside in our kitchen towels.

Half of tea towels analysed contained bacteria, with big families and meat eaters facing increased danger. Thanks in part to how often they are reused, they are often filth-encrusted sheets infested with bacteria, meaning that they're putting you - an innocent kitchen-dweller - at an elevated risk of food poisoning. It claims that the clothes, tea-towels, dish-wash sponges and the oven gloves should regularly be washed to maintain hygiene. Of these contaminated towels, 37 per cent grew the enterococcus bacteria (which can cause a variety of infections), while 14 per cent grew the staphylococcus bacteria (a type of germ found on the skin). The risk of having coliforms (Escherichia coli) was higher from humid towels than the dried ones, from multipurpose towels than single-use ones and from families on non-vegetarian diets.

"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.

Wash your hands. USDA suggest washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, whether it's before you cook or after handling raw meat and its packaging.

The experts have recommended that these towels and other regular use cloths in the kitchen should be replaced daily on days of cooking.

"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged", Dr. Biranjia-Hurdoyal said.

Do you know what’s growing on your kitchen towel?