Time to Throw Out Your Kitchen Towel?

They may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of kitchens, but seemingly every kitchen features a kitchen towel. And why wouldn’t it, given all the spills and messes found in this part of your home. Unfortunately, these towels could also have one serious drawback – they could lead to food poisoning.

Invisible Invaders

The link between kitchen towels and digestive issues comes from a 2018 study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. For their report, the authors of this study examined 100 kitchen towels, each of which had been in use for one month.

Nearly half (49) of these towels were found to be harboring various types of potentially dangerous bacteria. Furthermore, the researchers noted that such bacteria tended to increase in number in the presence of children and large families. Other notable findings from the study are shown below:

  • Bacterial counts were found to be notably high among towels used for wiping utensils, as well as those needed for holding hot utensils.
  • The authors noted that bacteria levels were also elevated on towels used for wiping and cleaning kitchen surfaces.
  • One group of bacteria, known as coliform, was documented in relatively high amounts on both humid and multipurpose towels. Likewise, towels from non-vegetarian homes also tended to attract coliform.

When all these findings are taken into account, the authors contend that dirty towels hanging up on kitchen racks may allow bacteria to latch onto foods, thereby sickening household residents.

“Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels,” stated Susheela D Biranjia-Hurdoyal, the study’s senior author. “Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged. Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen.”

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