OF THE HYGIENE OF KITCHEN CLOTHS & TOWELS
Keith Redway & Brian Knights
The steady increase in the incidence of food poisoning cases in the UK and the 1996 E. coli outbreak have increased interest in all aspects of food hygiene and have helped to further demonstrate its importance in wholesale, retail, catering and domestic situations. The summer months see an increase in food poisoning cases caused by various bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter species and, although the reasons for this are various, one of the main ones is the higher temperature (even with a British summer!). Higher temperatures will encourage bacteria to breed more rapidly and increase the risk of food poisoning occurring.
Various studies carried out at the University of Westminster have consistently shown that reusable kitchen cloths (e.g. dishcloths, non-woven cloths and sponge cloths) rapidly become colonized with various types of bacteria and the number of these is likely to be greater during the summer. After only one day's use in a domestic kitchen, the average reusable cloth contains This is not that surprising because many bacteria can divide every 20 minutes under favourable conditions and reusable cloths in a kitchen provide everything that they need for rapid growth, i.e.
GROWTH OF BACTERIA
To see larger version of graph, click on it and then use BACK button on your browser to return to this page.
The graph shows that if you use a
reusable kitchen cloth at breakfast and leave just one bacterium in it, by
mid-afternoon there could be over 1 million present and over by the time of the 6 o'clock News.
However, it is more likely that not one but thousands of bacteria will be left in the cloth after breakfast and so the problem is actually worse than this graph suggests. Of course, bacteria do not usually continue to divide regularly every 20 minutes because they eventually run out of food and space but on average 1 billion is reached in a reusable kitchen cloth in less than 24 hours.
What can be done?
* single-use (do not transfer bacteria from one object to another)
* dry (do not encourage the survival and growth of bacteria)
* disposable (any bacteria are removed to the waste bin rather than being transferred to hands or food)
* unlikely to encourage bacterial resistance (they do not contain unnecessary anti-bacterial agents)
Click here for more information on the University of
Westminster studies on kitchen cloths and towels