Repeatedly using an old one could help to spread food poisoning, researchers warn.
"Escherichia coli is a normal flora of human intestine and it is released in large numbers in human feces", the researchers said. They discovered that the E. coli virus was more likely to be present in the towels used for multiple tasks in the kitchen like cleaning the surfaces, drying out the hands and wiping the utensils.
Multiple factors contribute to an increase in bacteria found on towels, including family size and the type of food consumed.
Non-vegetarian diets were found to increase the risk of contamination by bacteria such as E. coli.
The BBC also reported lead author Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal as saying: "The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen". But the study found E.coli was more likely to develop on cloths that had been used and then left damp.
"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 adds.
But foodies, beware: If you're not careful about how often you wash your towels, your kitchen rags could become a breeding ground for unsafe, stomach-sickening germs.
They found staphylococcus was more likely to be found on towels from families with children and of lower socio-economic status.
Out of the remaining towels that tested positive for bacterial presence, 36.7 percent towels contained coliform bacteria while the rest 36.7 percent contained enterococcus spp and remaining 14.3 contained staphylococcus aureus.
Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen". Biranjia-Hurdoyal conducted an earlier study of kitchen tables in 2016 and found they can also be hangout spots for risky bacteria. The families who provided the towels also submitted a filled-out questionnaire about their living conditions. "There's just a wider range of sources of possible bacteria in the kitchen".
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