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Your kitchen towel could give you food poisoning

12 June 2018

The presence of Escherichia coli, a normal flora of human intestine that's released in large numbers in human feces, indicates possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices. 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. Out of 100 towels collected for the study, the researchers found that 49 percent contained bacterial growth and the figure increased in the families that had more of members, presence of kids and increasing family size. The risk for E. coli was higher in damp towels than dry ones, from towels used for several jobs rather than single-use ones, and from those used in non-vegetarian households.

Coliform bacteria and staphylococcus were found at a "significantly higher prevalence" on towels from meat-eating households. Thanks in part to how often they are reused, they are often filth-encrusted sheets infested with bacteria, meaning that they're putting you - an innocent kitchen-dweller - at an elevated risk of 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.

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.

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

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Among the samples which were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 percent grew coliforms, 36.7 percent grew Enterococcus spp, and 14.3 percent grew S. aureus.

The researchers said that the data suggest that unhygienic handling of non-vegetarian food commonly happens in the kitchen.

As for the bacteria found in the study "what's listed here doesn't initially raise concerns with me", Chapman said.

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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Kitchen towels can harbor pathogens that may cause food poisoning, findings of new study have revealed.

Tea towels aren't the only thing in your kitchen harbouring germs.

"It doesn't surprise me at all that something that's in a kitchen environment has bacteria on it".

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Your kitchen towel could give you food poisoning