What bacteria is growing on your kitchen towels?


Researchers cultured bacteria from 100 kitchen towels after one month of use to find out each the kind and quantity of bacterial development. They discovered that 49% of the towels exhibited development of bacteria usually present in or on the human physique.

“In this study, we investigated the potential role of kitchen towels in cross-contamination in the kitchen and various factors affecting the microbial profile and load of kitchen towels,” mentioned Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, senior lecturer of health sciences on the University of Mauritius and a lead creator on the examine offered Saturday on the annual assembly of the American Society for Microbiology.

Of the 49 towels exhibiting bacterial development, virtually three-quarters grew bacteria usually discovered within the intestines, corresponding to E. coli and Enterococcus species. Another 14% grew colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, also known as “staph” — a bacteria that is usually discovered on human pores and skin and within the respiratory tract, in accordance with the examine.

“Those are bacteria that are concerns for food-borne illnesses,” mentioned Paul Dawson, a food scientist and professor within the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University within the United States, who was not concerned within the examine.
“Of course, E. coli is in the news a lot, but E. coli as a general genus and species is not a problem,” Dawson added. “But there are particular varieties that may trigger issues, like those lately discovered on romaine lettuce.”
Some strains of S. aureus may also produce a toxin that, if ingested, can result in signs of food poisoning corresponding to fever, vomiting and diarrhea, in accordance with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Staph is found on the hands and can cause food-borne infection by producing a toxin outside the body. Then you can ingest the toxin and get sick,” Dawson mentioned.

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The researchers additionally discovered that the kind and quantity of bacteria differed primarily based on a household’s measurement, socioeconomic standing and sort of weight loss program. Specifically, S. aureus was extra prone to be discovered on towels from bigger households and people of decrease socioeconomic standing, whereas the intestinal bacteria had been extra prone to be present in households that ate meat.

“Raw meat carries bacteria and then if you throw it on the cutting board and use a towel or sponge to dry that off, it could pick that up,” Dawson mentioned. “Cutting boards and table tops used for food prep are of concern and need to be cleaned regularly and dried.”

The bacteria had been additionally extra prone to be discovered on moist towels than dry towels and on towels that had been used for a number of functions, corresponding to wiping utensils, drying arms and cleansing surfaces, in accordance with the examine.

“Humid towels and multipurpose usage of towels should be discouraged,” Biranjia-Hurdoyal mentioned in an announcement. “Moist towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning.”

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The findings are in keeping with previous research exhibiting that towels and different kitchen gadgets may be reservoirs for bacteria that trigger food-borne diseases.

“It’s not a new finding that towels contain bacteria,” Dawson mentioned. “There’s just a wider range of sources of possible bacteria in the kitchen.”

These bacteria additionally are inclined to develop quicker in heat, damp environments corresponding to kitchen sponges, towels and drains. Therefore, folks ought to make sure to clear and dry their kitchen towels typically, in accordance with Dawson.

“You want to change that towel every few days. If you have multiple towels, just throw one in the washer and get a new one,” Dawson mentioned. “And for sponges, microwaving them might be a better way to sanitize them than just putting antimicrobial liquid on them.”

The new analysis additionally states that common cleansing could also be much more necessary for giant households, notably these with kids, in accordance with Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

“Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen,” she mentioned.


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