42: Tea towels a source of bacteria in kitchen

I was never a paper towel kinda guy.

I have about 30 tea towels, including one with images of all of Sorenne’s prep (kindergarten) pals and teachers.

They are my go-to sweat rags, hand wipes and kitchen cleaner-uppers.

As advised by The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, never leave home without a towel.

About five go into the laundry every day.

According to a study published by the University of Mauritius, and presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, your kitchen towels may be the leading culprit of pathogen advancement.

“Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels,” said Dr. Biranjia-Hurdoyal. “We also found that diet, type of use and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning,” she said.

Researchers collected a total of 100 kitchen towels after one month of use. Using standard biochemical tests, they concluded that 49% of the kitchen towels collected in the study had bacterial growth. The bacterial growth increased in number with family size—whether by extended family, or the presence of children.

Experts discourage using kitchen towels for multiple purposes (wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces) because they had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels. They also warn against using humid towels because they too showed higher bacterial count than dry ones. Pathogens on kitchen towels would indicate that they could bear some responsibility for cross-contamination in the kitchen and, ultimately, food poisoning. Households with children, older adults or others with immunosuppression should be especially vigilant about hygiene in the kitchen.

But, like other studies of sponges and things, the researchers don’t account for the level of cleaning in a particular household. Five a day, into the laundry.

And rather than blame consumers, have a look at bacterial loads on chef aprons.

Tea towel police? Britain’s kitchens so filthy they present health risk

Home cooking may, according to The Independent, be as popular as ever following the success of celebrity chefs on television. But amateur cooks appear to be less keen on kitchen hygiene.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-red-white-tea-towel-image11583462New research presented at the Institute of Food Science and Technology Conference in London from a questionnaire completed by 1,551 people found that not only are Britain’s kitchens so filthy that they present a health risk, but household chefs are woefully ignorant about food preparation hygiene.

Caveats: it’s a self-reported survey, which usually suck; and, the research needs to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

However, since it’s out there, what Professor Tony Hines and Nicole Patterson-Lett of Leatherhead Food Research found that people commonly forget to wash their hands, use dirty tea towels and drip germ-laden meat juices in places they should never be.

“I’m sure we’ve all got friends where you go round for dinner and you look at their tea towel and think: ‘My God, that’s disgusting, why don’t you get a new one?’ We don’t have a tea towel police, but we’re raising the issue,” said Hines.

In other cases, many people are unaware of the danger that their lack of basic hygiene poses to their health. Handling raw meat is always a no-no, for example, because it helps to spread germs around – which can cause food poisoning.

Patterson-Lett added: “If you then wipe your hands over the tea towel, having touched the chicken, and then a bit later you’re doing the washing-up with the same tea towel, then again you’re spreading the bacteria to the plates further. It just spreads. You’re not aware of it, you can’t see it.”

Two-thirds of consumers remove raw meat from the packet by hand – you’re meant to plunge a fork or other utensil into it or else tip it onto a chopping board – while three-quarters hold the meat while cutting it into pieces, rather than holding it in place with cutlery. Half of consumers are unaware that washing meat is bad because it splashes germs around the kitchen.