Your Kitchen Towels Could Be Contaminated With Bacteria From Human Feces And Cause Food Poisoning


Kitchen towels can harbor pathogens that may cause food poisoning, findings of the new study have revealed.

Factors That Influence Growth Of Pathogens In Kitchen Towels

In the study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta Georgia, researchers showed that the size of a family, diet type at home and multi-usage of towels are among the factors that can influence the growth of disease-causing pathogens on kitchen towels, which can potentially lead to food poisoning.

Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, from the University of Mauritius, and colleagues found that 49 percent of the 100 towels they tested in their study had bacterial growth, and the amount of pathogen increases with bigger family size, extended family, and presence of children.

The researchers distributed the towels and then collected them after one month use. Biranjia-Hurdoyal and colleagues then cultured the bacteria in the towels and identified them using standard biochemical tests.

Towels That Harbor More Pathogens

Of the towels that tested positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 percent grew Enterococcus spp, 36.7 percent harbored coliforms (Escherichia coli) and 14.3 had S. aureus.

Those used for a range of purposes, such as wiping utensils, wiping and cleaning surfaces, and drying hands, were found to have a higher amount of bacteria compared with single-use towels. Humid towels also have more bacteria compared with the dry ones.

"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels," Biranjia-Hurdoyal said ."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.

The researchers found that coliform and S. aureus were more prevalent in towels from families with non-vegetarian diets. The researchers said that the data suggest that unhygienic handling of non-vegetarian food commonly happens in the kitchen.

E. coli is a bacteria found in human feces. The presence of this bacteria suggests lack of hygiene practices and possible fecal contamination.


Biranjia-Hurdoyal said that the presence of these pathogens in kitchen towels suggests that the towels could be behind cross-contamination in the kitchen, which can lead to food poisoning. Cross-contamination is the accidental transfer of potentially dangerous germs from one surface to another.

Biranjia-Hurdoyal advised against using humid and multipurpose kitchen towels. She likewise urged those with big families, and those who have children and elderly family members to be vigilant when it comes to hygiene in the kitchen.

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