Tea towels used multiple times put families at risk of food poisoning

Researchers say kitchen towels could be reason for food poisoning

Factors such as family size, type of diet, multi-usage of towels, among other factors and their impact on the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels was studied by researchers from the University of Mauritius which has led them to the conclusion that they can cause food poisoning.

"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels", said Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, of the University of Mauritius. It was found almost half of the towels (49 percent) had bacterial growth.

Do you use your tea towel a couple of times? It also found tea towels in the homes of larger families and those of a lower socio-economic background had higher rates of bacteria growth.

Still, some strains of E.coli can cause food poisoning and experts say there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family in the kitchen.

New research suggests kitchen towels are a hotbed for germs that could potentially make you and your family sick. They also determined the bacterial load on the towels.

The team is presenting the results of their work at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, Georgia. Because they are used for various purposes, they tend to help spread the bacteria to different surfaces and areas in the house leading to food poisoning, the researchers explain.

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Of the 49 samples that were infested with bacteria, 37 percent had Escherichia coli (E. coli), 37 percent had Enterococcus, and 14 percent were infected with Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). How often do you wash them?

All three food poisoning bugs, which can be fatal for the elderly or infirm, were much more prevalent among families that had 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. All surfaces should be cleaned after use and most importantly hands should be washed before preparation of food and after handling raw meat, fish, eggs or poultry.

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

According to the researchers, the presence of these potential pathogens, especially E.coli, from the kitchen towels indicates potential faecal contamination and bad hygiene practices.

For the study, Biranjia-Hurdoyal and her colleagues sampled 100 kitchen towels that had been used for one month.

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