A recent study on food preparation found that lots of people aren't very careful about avoiding foodborne illness, and contaminate all sorts of surfaces in the kitchen. The dirtiest item on the list? Tea towels.
Photo by Matt MacGillivray
123 participants were randomly assigned to prepare different meals with raw meat. The study found that most of them did not follow very good food handling practices, and cross-contaminated all sorts of items and surfaces in the kitchen. Science Daily, interviewing the researchers, explains:
"First, participants were observed frequently handling towels, including paper towels, even when not using them for drying," Sneed said. "Towels were determined to be the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces tested."
Video observation showed many participants would touch the towel before washing their hands or used the towel after washing their hands inadequately. Even after properly washing their hands, they reused the towel and contaminated themselves all over again.
That bacteria can grow on the towels overnight, making it an even germier item the next day.
Their recommendations may seem a little over-the-top (only use paper towels! Don't touch your mobile phone while cooking!), but you can read them at the link below if you so desire. The most important takeaways: Don't touch your tea towels (or anything else) with your gross raw chicken hands (duh), and wash your towels more often, because they're probably vile.
Consumer Food Handling Practices Lead to Cross-Contamination [PDF] | Food Protection Trends via Science Daily