Kitchen towels can cause food poisoning

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Several factors - including diet, family size and usage - influence the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels, the scientists said in a statement. Moreover diet, type of use and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning.

Out of all the kitchen towels collected for the study, 49 percent had bacterial growth which increased with an increase in the number of family members, the presence of children and extended family.

Towels that were damp showed higher bacterial counts than dry ones, and S. aureus was more likely to be found on towels from bigger families and those of lower socioeconomic status.

Of the towel samples that tested positive for bacteria, about 73 percent grew types of bacteria found in human intestines, including E. coli and Enterococcus species.

Researchers analyzed 100 towels after one month of use and found that almost half had bacterial growth.

The humble kitchen towels used for multi-purpose tasks can put your households at potential risk of bacteria that cause food poisoning, say researchers.

Findings from the study were scheduled for presentation Saturday at the American Society for Microbiology meeting, in Atlanta.

New research suggests kitchen towels are a hotbed for germs that could potentially make you and your family sick.

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

"If you have multiple towels, just throw one in the washer and get a new one", Dawson said.

Ever wonder how much bacteria is growing on your kitchen towel? Towels used by families with children or elderly people contained more bacteria, as did large families in general. Another 14 percent grew colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to as "staph" - a bacteria that is normally found on human skin and in the respiratory tract, according to the study.

Both E. coli and S. aureus were found at higher rates in families with non-vegetarian diets.

The presence of Escherichia coli indicates possible faecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices.

He said, "The key advice is to remain attentive to food safety when preparing food in the home, which includes proper hand-washing, avoiding cross-contamination, and cooking and storing foods at the right temperatures".

"Furthermore, reusing contaminated towels to wipe hands or other surfaces can easily lead to cross-contamination, and therefore should not be reused throughout meal preparation, since they too can contribute to contamination of hands, surfaces or other food products", Sauer said.

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