Avoid humid towels and multi-usage of kitchen towels

Do you know what's growing on your kitchen towel

Elizabeth Eun CNN

"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels", Chiese news agency Xinhua said quoting Biranjia-Hurdoyal, senior lecturer with the Department of Health Sciences of the University of Mauritius. The study found that 49 percent of the towels tested positive for bacteria and that the amount of bacteria was higher for towels used by large families or families with children, compared with towels used by smaller families or families without children. Damp towels had higher concentrations than dry, and towels used for a variety of tasks (drying hands, wiping surfaces, holding hot implements) were more likely to be contaminated than single-use dish cloths. It also found tea towels in the homes of larger families and those of a lower socio-economic background had higher rates of bacteria growth. "Mainly because you're cleaning up vegetables, carcasses of meat, and all sorts of food stuff that can potentially contain pathogenic [disease-causing] bacteria that will grow in numbers over time". Critical observations of the research conclude that multiple uses of the towels may give rise to cross-contamination by potential pathogens.

FYI, nylon towels generally had less bacteria on them than cotton towels - likely because cotton is more absorbent, providing microbes more to feast on.

Repeated use of tea towels is putting households at risk of food poisoning, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and even meningitis, a new study suggests. But just how often do you need to swap them out?

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Researchers cultured bacteria from 100 kitchen towels after one month of use to determine both the type and amount of bacterial growth.

Non-vegetarian diets were found to increase the risk of contamination by bacteria such as E. coli. Coliform and S. aureus were detected at significantly higher prevalence from families with non-vegetarian diets.

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

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Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets.

Use different towels for different chores. The presence of Escherichia coli indicates possible fecal contamination and lack of hygiene practices.

"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen". Hygiene maintenance is vital for families that have more members or have children and elderly she said.

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