"Diet, type of use, and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning", Biranjia-Hurdoyal said in a statement. The study didn't find any of the common culprits of foodborne illness, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter or pathogenic types of E. coli, such as E. coli O157:H7, he noted. While it's true that a new study did find that kitchen towels aren't exactly bastions of cleanliness, you don't necessarily need to forever banish them to the deepest, darkest pits of hell. Compared with single-use towels, multipurpose towels had higher colony-forming units (CFUs); humid towels had higher CFUs than dry ones.
The food poisoning bacteria, which can be fatal for the elderly or the infirm, were more prevalent among families that had non-vegetarian diets. According to researchers, E. coli growth was more likely to be found on damp towels and on towels used for multiple purposes, such as drying dishes and cleaning counters. Out of the 49 samples which were positive for bacterial growth, 36.7 percent grew coliforms, 36.7 percent Enterococcus spp, and 14.3 percent S. aureus.
FYI, nylon towels generally had less bacteria on them than cotton towels - likely because cotton is more absorbent, providing microbes more to feast on. The study determined that meat-eating households, large family homes, and homes with a lower socio-economic background also had higher rates of bacteria growth, The Independent reports.
Forty-nine percent of the kitchen towels collected for the study were laden with bacteria, and the bacterial count increased with the number of family members and kids, researchers from the Indian Ocean island/nation of Mauritius reported. How often do you wash them? The research is presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held from June 7th to June 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.
"However, even when provided with disposable single-use paper towels, participants were still observed using these in a way that led to additional contamination of contact surfaces", he noted.
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.
The experts have recommended that these towels and other regular use cloths in the kitchen should be replaced daily on days of cooking.
According to lead author of the study, Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, the presence of coliforms indicate that there is a possibility of bad hygiene and fecal contamination.
"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged", Dr. Biranjia-Hurdoyal said.