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Infection risk: cloths and rags can transmit dangerous germs


Can the use of tea towels be harmful to health?

Many people use a so-called tea towel in their kitchen every day, for example to wipe away minor dirt and water stains. But researchers have now found that the use of used tea towels and towels endangers health and can even lead to dangerous food poisoning.

The repeated use of tea towels appears to pose health risks. In their current study, the scientists at the University of Mauritius found that there are many dangerous bacteria on tea towels, which may even cause food poisoning. The physicians presented the results of their study at this year's annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta.

100 towels used were checked for bacteria

The study examined a total of 100 wipes that had been in use for a month. It was found that so-called E. coli bacteria were on the cloths when cloths were used for several jobs, such as wiping utensils and cleaning surfaces.

Multiple use increases the risk to health

The multiple use increases the risk of cross-contamination and bacteria spread that can lead to food poisoning, the experts explain. Dishcloths, hand towels, sponges and oven gloves should therefore be washed regularly and must also be dried before being used again. It is advisable to replace such kitchen utensils regularly, the doctors advise.

What types of bacteria have you found?

The scientists cultivated the bacteria found on the wipes to identify them and determine the bacterial load. Bacterial growth was observed in 49 percent of the towels. The bacteria increased as the number of family members increased, the scientists explain. In the 49 contaminated towels, so-called coliform bacteria grew to 36.7 percent. This group of bacteria also includes E. coli. Enterococci and about 14 percent bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus aureus were also found on almost 37 percent of the tissues.

What do E. coli bacteria do?

E. coli is a genus of bacteria that occurs in human and animal viscera. Most species are harmless, but some can cause severe food poisoning and serious infections.

How do I prevent germs from spreading in the kitchen?

  • Change tea towels and towels regularly.
  • Some experts recommend replacing kitchen towels after a day of use.
  • The use of disposable or paper towels prevents the spread of germs.
  • Reusable wipes should be washed at 60 ° C after each use.
  • Wash dish brushes regularly in the dishwasher or clean them after each use with detergent and warm water.
  • Make sure the food preparation surfaces are clean before use.
  • Use separate cutting boards for the various foods, such as meat and salad ingredients (which don't need to be cooked). Wash and dry your hands after handling foods like raw meat.
  • Surfaces should be cleaned immediately after use.

Are bad hygiene practices the trigger?

The researchers say the presence of E. coli indicates possible fecal contamination and poor hygiene practices. The data suggests that unsanitary practices when handling non-vegetarian food in the kitchen may be common, says lead author Dr. Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal from the University of Mauritius according to the BBC.

Which people are particularly at risk?

Larger families with children and older members should pay particular attention to hygiene in the kitchen. Staphylococci were more likely to be found on towels from families with children and lower socioeconomic status, the researchers explain. Staphylococci can cause food poisoning because the bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature and form a disease-causing toxin. Coliform bacteria and staphylococci were found with a significantly higher prevalence in household towels in which people consumed meat. (as)

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