Multipurpose towel can have higher bacteria count

Multipurpose towel can have higher bacteria count

Baughn also notes it's important to remember that if you cut yourself while cooking, don't grab that kitchen towel you used to dry food or clean potentially contaminated surfaces.

As per the study, around 50 per cent of the kitchen towels collected showed bacterial growth which increased in number with extended family, presence on children and increasing family size.

The findings showed that the towels used for wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces, had a higher bacterial count. The study found E coli was more likely to develop on towels that had been left to sit damp, while coliforms and S aureus bacteria were detected at significantly higher rates in households with non-vegetarian diets.

Of the 49 towels that carried pathogens, nearly three-quarters grew coliform bacteria (a type that may include E. coli); 36.7 percent grew Enterococcus; and 14.3 percent grew staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph that can cause serious infections.

The bacteria discovered in the towels were cultured by the researchers in order to identify and determine the bacterial load in them.

The findings of the research will be presented at the American Society for Microbiology at its annual meeting.

Researchers found bacteria growth, including E.coli, developed on cloths that were used multiple times.

Multipurpose towels have higher colony-forming units; humid towels have higher CFU versus dry ones.


Still, Chapman said that, in theory, kitchen towels could aid in the spread of foodborne illness.

"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.

About half of tea towels used repeatedly over a month were found to be contaminated with bacteria, such as E. coli, a strain of bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning.

And while washing towels frequently is a good habit, "humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged", Biranjia-Hurdoyal says.

The researchers said the presence of E. coli indicated possible faecal contamination and bad hygiene practices. "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", she said.

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.

They found staphylococcus was more likely to be found on towels from families with children and of lower socio-economic status.

Related Articles