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…