Your kitchen towels could give you food poisoning, study suggests


A study shows how a tea towel can spread food poisoning. Escherichia coli is a normal flora of human intestine and it is released in large numbers in human feces. The towels for multipurpose usage (wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces) had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels and humid towels showed higher bacterial count than the dry ones.

The researchers found that 49 percent of the kitchen towels had bacterial growth, which increased significantly by size of family, extended family, and presence of children.

The microbiologists found that roughly half of the 100 towels were growing risky microbes, including the potentially infection-inducing Staphylococcus (also known as "staph") and E. coli. This bacterium, as well as coliforms, were also more likely to reside on towels used by families with non-vegetarian diets.

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Lead author of the study, Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, said: 'Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen'. In addition, damp towels had more bacteria than dry ones, the investigators found.

Kitchen towels may harbor unsafe bacteria such as e.coli from human feces that can cause food poisoning. The presence of this bacteria suggests lack of hygiene practices and possible fecal contamination. The study determined that meat-eating households, large family homes, and homes with a lower socio-economic background also had higher rates of bacteria growth, The Independent reports.

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

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In total, 37 per cent of towels used in the experiment grew coliforms, 37 per cent tested positive for Enterococcus bacteria and 14 per cent developed Staphylococcus aureus. This could happen if, for instance, someone used a kitchen towel to wipe up meat juices from the counter and another person unknowingly used the towel to dry their hands, Chapman said.

First, the study: Not yet available for peer-review, it was first presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

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Your kitchen towel may harbor a number of different bacteria, a new study finds. The families who provided the towels also submitted a filled-out questionnaire about their living conditions.