The germiest things in your kitchen aren’t what you expect! 39



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Food poisoning is one of those things that no one wants to deal with. So, most of us keep a conscious mind in the kitchen to make sure our food is healthy and free from contamination. When we cook, we chop veges first on one board and then we chop the meat on another – that board then gets a wash straight away to avoid spreading meat germs anywhere else. Then we wipe our benches three times daily and keep our floors clean. If something drops, we throw it out! These practices seem like the most safe actions, however most of us are completely missing where the germs are lurking!

A study published in the journal Food Protection Trends, observed 123 people by video while they prepared a meal. They found that tea towels and mobile phones were responsible for the cause of cross-contamination in the kitchen!

This shocked us!

Apparently, people tend to touch tea towels before washing their hands, spreading harmful bugs. They also are often moist and damp while preparing food, meaning the germs stay alive for longer. The new study backs up previous research from the University of Arizona, which found that 90 per cent tea towels in kitchens contained food-poisoning causing bacteria.

Mobile phones were the second largest cause as researchers found that people touch then during food preparation and they already carry germs from other places. Apart from microscopic bacteria from our bodies, if someone carried it into a bathroom, it’s likely it now has extra germs and so forth. In fact, mobile phones are so concerning as a previous study found they are riddled with ten times more bacteria.

Lead researcher Dr Jeannie Sneed, of Kansas State University, said the study revealed how families were putting themselves in danger in the kitchen.

She said, “First, participants were observed frequently handling towels, including paper towels, even when not using them for drying. Towels were determined to be the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces tested. Many people would touch the towel before washing their hands or used the towel after washing their hands inadequately. Even after properly washing their hands, they would reuse the infected towel and contaminate themselves all over again”.

She pointed to previous research, which found that salmonella – bacteria commonly found in raw meat and poultry products – grows on cloths stored overnight, even after they were washed and rinsed in the sink.

She concluded that families are advised to wash cloth towels after using them while preparing a meal, or using paper towels and discarding them after each use.

This means that our mobile phones also need to be cleaned – sanitising technology wipes are available from most tech stores and it’s always handy to have some lying around.

So tell us, do you use your mobile in the kitchen? How often do you wash your tea towels? Are you caught out right now? Share your thoughts in the comments below… 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Do not use phone in kitchen while cooking. Husband is guilty of the tea towel thing I just keep washing then all the time. Have always considered them germ spreaders.

  2. Firstly, I’m an obsessive handwasher, antibacterial liquid right next to the tap, separate towels for hands and dishes, soaked in bleach and laundered after every meal, fresh piece of paper towel for each hand washing required during food preparation, disposable gloves for handling food changed with each different food handled, separate chopping boards disinfected after each use, OCD to the max but never ever managed to give anyone food poisoning in over 60 years of cooking including catering for parties of 150+ guests. Just lucky I guess.

  3. I like to think I am clean but I am not obsessive! My family and friends have never gotten sick from my habits! Half the reason people get sick is that they no longer come in contact with anything that is not sterile do have no immunity… Think about our forefathers … They didn’t have the luxury of all these special utensils and cleaning goods, I know my family didn’t for sure and we never got sick with food poisoning ! Let’s keep it simple and clean, not obsessive.

    2 REPLY
    • I agree Bev….basic commonsense. Cooked for Markets over twenty yrs.. No problems. I DO keep tea towels away from hubby though and usually airdry dishes. And replace towels often

    • Agree that people are too obsessive and have no immunity. Commonsense please.

  4. You people really are obsessive aren’t you? I don’t do any of the things in the first paragraph. Don’t use tea towels, knew they were filthy 50 years ago. My mobile phone is in the bedroom when I’m home. The dirtiest thing in the kitchen is the person you see in the mirror. At 70 years i am yet to give any one food poisoning. A bit of dirt helps build a healthy immune system. Get a life! Please!

    5 REPLY
    • Why do you have to say nasty things like “get a life”???Why can’t you just comment without having to result to insults????

    • With you Penny never made anyone sick. Lol.
      Some people are just too serious…..or believe everything they read,….


    • I don’t use tea towels either and I wash my hands before touching food every time. If I answer a phone, I wash my hands again regardless of if I’m preparing food or not.

    • Sometimes I think people can be obsessive about things and everyone is different.

    • I keep trying to get a life Penny, but people keep writing things on the Starts At 60 site so I keep getting interrupted. Sorry for having three “keeps”…. Now four! Point taken though about cleanliness being taken too far. Each to their own!

  5. Oh for goodness sake.Cleanliness is going overboard.We grew up in era when we bathed once a week and all shared the same water.We had a dunny out the back and a bowl of water and a towel to wash our hands with.Normal hand washing is enough.We will all become very ill if we continue down this path of trying to kill every germ that exists.No refridgerators,only a meat safe and how often did we ever become ill from a bit of dirt.This obsession with cleaning everything within an inch of its life is ridiculous.

    1 REPLY
  6. Agree with Penny, you can be over cautious. I think the worst thing is people who do not wash their hands after being to the toilet.

    2 REPLY
    • Many women never wash their hands after a wee. Yet the area they have to wipe is a sea of Ecoli, when I cook at home for guests I never let them help, never because I know the one’s who wipe then walk!!!! Ha ha

  7. Yvonne Young doctors keep say over and over again till sick of hearing it anti bacterial handwashers and cleaners are BAD the are taking away our own natural resistance to germs and bacteria we have always had. It is just advertising propaganda to make you buy more products

    1 REPLY
    • You are soo right. Making our immune systems weak & getting sick easily. I’m from the old school & don’t go over board with fussiness

  8. Some years ago, I recall that one of my nieces did a study on contamination whilst at college. As part of that, she took swabs from various surfaces – taps, sinks, floors, a toilet seat, etc.
    The swab with the highest e-coli count was – surprise! – the handle of the staff room door!!!

  9. WhWho is guilty of this?: Tea towels don’t get used much here so yes they hang around for a couple of days .

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