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

Kitchen towels '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 Susheela D.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, Georgia, found that 49 percent of the kitchen towels studied had bacterial growth.

Multiple use increases the chance of cross-contamination of potential pathogens that can spread bacteria and lead to food poisoning. The scientists took samples from the towels - which had been used, without being washed, for one month - and cultured, or grew, these samples in lab dishes.

They found that E.coli was more likely to be found on tea towels that are used for several purposes such as drying kitchen utensils and wiping surfaces, as well as drying hands.

To avoid food poisoning, Biranjia-Hurdoyal advised not to use damp or multi-purpose towels in the kitchen, and to "be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen" in bigger households.

The study found that 49 percent of the towels tested positive for bacteria and that the amount of bacteria was higher for towels used by large families or families with children, compared with towels used by smaller families or families without children.

He adds, "while they should be changed daily, when knowingly contaminated by food or meat drippings, etc, change them out for a new towel immediately".

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

Your tea towel is a filthy rag covered in bacteria which can make you poo through the eye of a needle for days, scientists have revealed.

The food poisoning bacteria, which can be fatal for the elderly or the infirm, were more prevalent among families that had non-vegetarian diets. Although staph bacteria usually don't cause illness in healthy people, when the bacterium gets into food, it can product toxins that can cause food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen", Biranjia-Hurdoyal said. The presence of Escherichia coli indicates possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices.

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

Of the 49 towels showing bacterial growth, nearly three-quarters grew bacteria normally found in the intestines, such as E. coliand Enterococcus species.

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