Cell Phones And Towels In The Kitchen Could Be Endangering Your Family’s Health
If you’re concerned about bacteria and food poisoning, recent research has shown that a threat that you might not have even put into consideration could be the most dangerous source of infection in your home that is in Cell phones and Towels.
No, it isn’t the cutting board, the sink, or even the toilet that should be the biggest cause of concern. It turns out that towels and cell phones are the dirty little culprits that could be causing preventable infections in your home, but it does make sense when you consider the food preparation habits in the kitchen today.
A recent study found that 92% of smartphones have bacterial contamination, and 1 in 6 contain fecal matter.
Wet hands have been known to transfer pathogens much more readily than dry hands or hands not washed at all. The residual moisture determines the level of bacterial and viral transfer following hand washing. Careful hand drying is a critical factor for bacterial transfer to skin, food and environmental surfaces.
“92% of smartphones have bacterial contamination, and 1 in 6 contain fecal matter.”
The new study, which was published in the journal Food Protection Trends, observed 123 people while making a meal. They found that tea towels were the leading cause of cross contamination in the kitchen.
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Lead researcher Dr. Jeannie Sneed revealed that participants were seen frequently handling towels, and many people touched the towel before washing their hands or used it after washing their hands inadequately. Even worse, people would reuse the infected towel even when they did properly wash their hands.
Considering the fact that towels and cell phones can quickly become contaminated at significant levels by microorganisms that can lead to food-borne illness, they could be considered to be one of the more serious threats of cross contamination in the home. In fact, previous research points out that salmonella – bacteria commonly found in raw meat and poultry products – grows on cloths stored overnight, even when they have been washed and rinsed in the sink. This led to the determination that towels are the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces that were tested.
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To add another layer to the contamination, the study also found that people are often touching their mobile phones while preparing food, which can also be riddled with bacteria that causes food poisoning. Think about how many times you have seen someone talking or texting on their phone when in the bathroom, where microorganisms such as norovirus and E. coli are commonly found. Many people do not disinfect these devices, and then they take them into the kitchen while preparing food. As a result of these habits, food preparation can actually be a recipe for disaster.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year, with 128,000 people hospitalized and 3,000 people dying from it annually. In the UK, the Food Standards Agency said that there are more than 500,000 cases of food poisoning a year from known pathogens, and that figure could double if it included food poisoning from unknown pathogens. Salmonella is the most common pathogen for food poisoning, resulting in approximately 2,500 hospital admissions each year.
With 90 percent of tea towels in the kitchen containing bacteria that causes food poisoning and cell phones containing 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, cross-contamination in the kitchen quickly becomes one of the more concerning sources of potential infections. To make it safer, Sneed advises people to wash cloth towels after using them while preparing a meal or use paper towels and discard them after each use. In addition, people should frequently use a disinfectant solution on the surface of the phone to eliminate that potential hazard, or better yet, keep the cell phone out of the kitchen altogether and focus their energy and enjoyment on the food preparation process and spending time with family.