Research shows how easily bacteria can thrive and spread within family kitchens

Colgate Palmolive and Don Schaffner (right, pretty much as shown) have hooked up to help spread awareness about safe kitchen practices.

Schaffner did a lit review, and I like that the press release has references – so many don’t; I don’t like that it repeatedly says food safety is simple and easy – it isn’t.

Research shows that E. coli, Salmonella and Staph can thrive on dishes and other kitchen surfaces.1 Whether putting away groceries or rinsing fresh vegetables, even the most careful cook can pass bacteria to new kitchen surfaces through the simple process of preparing a dish.

To help spread awareness about safe kitchen practices, the Palmolive® brand partnered with Donald W. Schaffner, Ph.D., renowned microbiologist and professor at Rutgers University. As an author of nearly 100 food microbiology studies, Dr. Schaffner was among the first to quantify how bacteria transfer during common kitchen tasks.

To demonstrate how easily cross-contamination can occur, Dr. Schaffner conducted a comprehensive review of his bacterial studies and those of leading universities and institutions worldwide that specialize in food safety research. Key research findings from this analysis include:

Bacterial Build-Up on Cutting Boards: Bacteria on a cutting board can double after 10 minutes of use, whether cutting raw meat or vegetables.2
Cutting Board Cross-Contamination: Ten percent of bacteria on a cutting board can transfer to lettuce while chopping.3
Survival of E. coli on Dishes: E. coli that remains on washed and dried dishes can survive up to three days.4

"Studies consistently demonstrate how easily bacteria spread throughout a kitchen – both bacteria-contaminated foods and hands can pass bacteria to dishes, cooking utensils and other ingredients," said Dr. Schaffner. "Yet, according to the research, even when cooks understand the ways bacteria can spread, they often fail to follow the simple precautions that can help reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination in the kitchen."

Consumers generally understand the causes of cross-contamination, such as not washing or changing the cutting board and other utensils between the preparation of meat and ready-to-eat foods.5 Despite this knowledge, many do not practice these safety measures while preparing meals. A recent study revealed that two-thirds of consumers failed to adequately wash hands after handling raw chicken, nearly 30 percent failed to wash or change the cutting board after cutting raw chicken and one-third failed to wash or change a knife used to cut raw chicken before cutting raw vegetables.6

"We know that consumers want to do everything they can to keep their kitchens clean and their families safe," said Dave Wilcox, Vice President, Product Safety, Regulatory & Quality, Colgate-Palmolive. "Using Ultra Palmolive® Antibacterial Dish Liquid to clean knife blades, dishes and other hard, nonporous kitchen surfaces throughout your cooking prep and clean-up process is a simple step that can help put your cooks’ minds at ease."


1"The importance of hygiene in the domestic kitchen: Implications for preparation and storage of food and infant formula." 2009. Perspectives in Public Health, March. Vol. 129 No. 2 l.

?2 "Use of Microbial Modeling and Monte Carlo Simulation to Determine Microbial Performance Criteria on Plastic Cutting Boards in Use in Foodservice Kitchens." 2004. Food Protection Trends, Vol. 24, No. 1: 14-19.

3 "Quantification and Variability analysis of Bacterial Cross-Contamination Rates in Common Food Service Tasks." 2001. Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 64, No. 1: 72-80.

4 "The survival of foodborne pathogens during domestic washing-up and subsequesnt transfer onto washing-up sponges, kitchen surfaces and food." 2002. International Journal of Food Microbiology, Vol. 85 (2003): 213- 226.

5 "Bacterial Contamination of Hands Increases Risk of Cross-contamination among Low-income Puerto Rican Meal Preparers." 2009. Journal of Nutritional Educational Behavior, Vol. 41:389-397?

6"Cooking Practices in the Kitchen-Observed Versus Predicted Behavior." 2009. Risk Analysis, Vol. 29, No. 4. DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2008.01189.x