Bacteria from kitchen towels could lead to food poisoning

Bacteria from kitchen towels could lead to food poisoning

"Moist towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning".

A new research has warned that the humble kitchen towel can put your households at potential risk of bacteria that cause food poisoning if used repeatedly.

Nearly half (49%) of the towels collected had bacterial growth, which increased in number with extended family, presence of children and family size. Those germs were also more likely to be found in multipurpose towels - those used for wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot implements, and cleaning surfaces - and on the kitchen towels of families who ate non-vegetarian diets.

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.

Out of the 49 samples which were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 per cent grew coliforms, 36.7 per cent Enterococcus spp and 14.3 per cent S aureus.

Out of 100 towels used for a month, half were growing bacteria like staph and e-coli.

"But staph being "[on] the towel isn't as concerning as [it being in] food", an expert tells Live Science, noting researchers failed to find the types of bacteria typically associated with foodborne illnesses, like salmonella and O157:H7, a particularly harmful strain of E. coli. Researchers from the University of Mauritius presented the study at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta on June 9.

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New research shows some nasty findings about the bacteria that can be found.

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

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 objective. Bacteria also marked their presence on towels with traces of meat on it.

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

Bacteria can not grow on something you throw away immediately after use. "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", Biranjia-Hurdoyal suggested.

"Furthermore, reusing contaminated towels to wipe hands or other surfaces can easily lead to cross-contamination, and therefore should not be reused throughout meal preparation, since they too can contribute to contamination of hands, surfaces or other food products", Sauer said.

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