Kitchen Towels Could Contribute to Growth of Pathogens That Cause Food Poisoning

Roughly half of the kitchen towels sampled in the study were teeming with bacteria.					Getty Images

Repeatedly using an old one could help to spread food poisoning, researchers warn.

Of the 49 towels showing bacterial growth, nearly three-quarters grew bacteria normally found in the intestines, such as E. coli and Enterococcus species.

The more children a family had, the more likely the sample was to contain bacteria - and towels used for multiple purposes, such as holding hot items and wiping surfaces, were the worst.

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.

Specifically, the latter increased chances of cross-contamination, thus making them more likely to have E. coli buildup. Specifically, S. aureus was more likely to be found on towels from larger families and those of lower socioeconomic status, while the intestinal bacteria were more likely to be found in families that ate meat.

"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels", said the study's lead author, Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, of the University of Mauritius, according to The Economic Times. Towels used by families with children or elderly people contained more bacteria, as did large families in general.

Multi-use of kitchen towels is putting households at risk of food poisoning, research suggests.

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Their thorough research work reveals that the multiple use towel shows the presence of Escherichia coli.

Still, some strains of E.coli can cause food poisoning and experts say there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family in the kitchen.

"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged", Dr. Biranjia-Hurdoyal said.

Your dish cloth is also the ideal place for bacteria to breed. This could happen if, for instance, someone used a kitchen towel to wipe up meat juices from the counter and another person unknowingly used the towel to dry their hands, Chapman said.

Researchers analyzed 100 towels after one month of use and found that almost half had bacterial growth.

For the study, Biranjia-Hurdoyal and her colleagues sampled 100 kitchen towels that had been used for one month.

Dr Ackerley previously told The Sun Online: "I have never come across a kitchen cloth that is safe". Another 14 percent grew colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to as "staph" - a bacteria that is normally found on human skin and in the respiratory tract, according to the study.

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