Nearly half of the tea towels analysed had bacterial growth, which increased in number with extended family and the presence of children. Those germs were also more likely to be found in multipurpose towels - those used for wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot implements, and cleaning surfaces - and on the kitchen towels of families who ate non-vegetarian diets.
Scientists concluded that using disposable, single-use paper towels for kitchen towels was a more hygienic option.
Scientists carrying out the research grew cultures from bacteria found on tea towels to identify them and determine the bacteria load. It also found tea towels in the homes of larger families and those of a lower socio-economic background had higher rates of bacteria growth.
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The researchers from Mauritius University went through 100 towels which had been used multiple times in the kitchen in a month.
Researchers analyzed 100 towels after one month of use and found that almost half had bacterial growth. This bacterium, as well as coliforms, were also more likely to reside on towels used by families with non-vegetarian diets. They noted that 49 percent of the towels had growth of bacteria in them. The presence of potential pathogens from the kitchen towels indicates that they could be responsible for cross-contamination in the kitchen and could lead to food poisoning. Therefore, people should be sure to clean and dry their kitchen towels often, according to Dawson. Coliform and S. aureus were detected at significantly higher prevalence from families with non-vegetarian diets. Out of the 49 samples which were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7% grew coliforms, 36.7% Enterococcus spp and 14.3% S. aureus.
Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets. Researchers said the presence of E coli on several towels in the study is likely to have come from faecal contamination, suggesting unhygienic practices in the kitchen are widespread.
The experts have recommended that these towels and other regular use cloths in the kitchen should be replaced daily on days of cooking. "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", Biranjia-Hurdoyal said.