A new research has found that dirty kitchen towels can cause food poisoning due to the growth of pathogens in them. Factors such as family size, type of diet, multi-usage of towels, among other factors and their impact on the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels was studied by researchers from the University of Mauritius which has led them to the conclusion that they can cause food poisoning.
“Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels,” ANI news reported Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, the lead author on the study as saying. “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 added.
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. The towels that were used for multiple purposes like wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces, etc., had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels. Humid towels also showed a higher bacterial count when compared to the dry ones. Out of the 49 samples which were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 percent grew coliforms, 36.7 percent Enterococcus spp, and 14.3 percent S. aureus.
“In this study, we investigated the potential role of kitchen towels in cross-contamination in the kitchen and various factors affecting the microbial profile and a load of kitchen towels,” said Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal who is also the Senior Lecturer for the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Mauritius.
When it comes to the bacteria species, Coliform and S. aureus were found to be significantly higher in prevalence from families who have non-vegetarian diets. The presence of Escherichia coli, a normal flora of human intestine that’s released in large numbers in human feces, 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,” said Biranjia-Hurdoyal.
The presence of potential pathogens from the kitchen towels indicates that they could lead to food poisoning through cross-contamination. “Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged. Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen,” she said.