WASHINGTON, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Researchers from the University of Mauritius have shown that factors such as family size, type of diet, multi-usage of towels, among other factors, impact the growth of pathogens on kitchen towels, potentially causing food poisoning.
The research is presented on Saturday at ASM Microbe, the ongoing annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta.
"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels," said Biranjia-Hurdoyal, senior lecturer with the Department of Health Sciences of the University of Mauritius.
"We also found that diet, type of use and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning," she said.
Forty-nine percent of the kitchen towels collected in the study had bacterial growth which increased in number with extended family, presence on children and increasing family size, according to the study.
The towels for multipurpose usage (wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces) had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels and humid towels showed higher bacterial count than the dry ones.
A total of 100 kitchen towels were collected after one month of use. The researchers cultured the bacteria and identified them by standard biochemical tests. They also determined the bacterial load on the towels.
"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen," said Biranjia-Hurdoyal.
The presence of potential pathogens from the kitchen towels indicated that they could be responsible for cross-contamination in the kitchen and could lead to food poisoning.
"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," she said.