Kitchen towels can pose to at a risk of food poisoning

Kitchen towels can pose to at a risk of food poisoning

Family size, type of diet and multi-usage of towels, among other factors, impact the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels, potentially causing food poisoning, says a study.

She said: "If people use tea towels appropriately in the kitchen then there will be a minimal food poisoning risk to the consumer".

About 49 per cent of the kitchen towels collected in the study had bacterial growth which increased in number with extended family, presence on children and increasing family size. Towels that were used for multiple purposes - such as those used for wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot implements, and cleaning surfaces - also had a higher risk of contamination.

Coliforms (Escherichia coli) was found to be higher in humid towels, multipurpose towels and in towels from families having non-vegetarian diets. Out of the 49 samples that were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 percent grew coliforms, 36.7 percent grew Enterococcus spp and 14.3 percent grewS. aureus.

The researchers from Mauritius University went through 100 towels which had been used multiple times in the kitchen in a month.

The scientists swabbed, cultured and preserved the bacterial contamination from such towels.

The study is being presented at the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, Georgia annual meet.

Multipurpose towels have higher colony-forming units; humid towels have higher CFU versus dry ones.

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen", said lead author Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

Half were growing bacteria like staph and e-coli.

And now, if you needed a reason to launder your trusty tea towels more regularly, scientists from the University of Mauritius have provided one. "The presence of Escherichia coli indicates possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices (while handling non-vegetarian food)".

They found staphylococcus was more likely to be found on towels from families with children and of lower socio-economic status.

The USDA also recommends taking several precautions when preparing food in the kitchen in order to prevent the spread of germs that could make you or your family sick.

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". "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", suggests Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

These bacteria also tend to grow faster in warm, damp environments such as kitchen sponges, towels and drains.