I don’t have to tell you that washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from bacterial and viral infections, especially during the cold and flu season.
But drying your hands – well, that’s another story.
Let your hands drip-dry
In a recent study, researchers at Kansas State University asked 123 people to prepare a chicken or raw ground beef recipe, along with fruit salad. To see where any cross-contamination might occur, the researchers laced both the beef and chicken with harmless bacteria.
By the end of the test, researchers found the tracer bacteria had spread to 90 per cent of the fruit salad… and the researchers suspect that the biggest cross-contaminating culprit was none other than kitchen towels.
Here’s how they think it happened: You get raw beef or chicken on your hands when you prepare it, and then wipe them on the kitchen towel instead of washing your hands. Bacteria multiply on the towels, and when you use them again they spread to your hands.
In fact, researchers found that cloth kitchen towels were “the most contaminated of all the contact surfaces tested”, making them the surface to most likely spread foodborne illnesses.
Cloth towels stored overnight were breeding grounds for germs, even if they were washed and rinsed in the sink after use. Paper towels, the researchers found, were also spreading bacteria when they were reused after drying messy hands.
But there’s one more disease-spreading device in your kitchen… and it’s one you might never expect: Your trusty mobile phone.
Apparently, we have a hard time putting our mobile phones down even when we’re cooking. And it isn’t long before that touchscreen or keypad is crawling with germs.
So, if you still use cloth towels in your kitchen, the only way to really clean them is in the washing machine. Don’t leave them hanging on the rail overnight. And paper towels? Well, these should be thrown out after one use.
As for your mobile phone, if you must use it while you prepare a beef stroganoff, be sure to wipe it down with a disinfectant straight after you hang up or send that text message. Or better yet, put it in another room where you won’t hear it ring while making dinner.
When I grew up, preparing meals at home included the whole family. It was a time for us to regroup and bond at the end of a long day. So, why not get everybody to put their mobile phones away and instead get your children and grandchildren involved in meal preparation time?
Teaching children how to cook is a gift of health they will use for their entire lives. It is also something they will pass on to their children and grandchildren… Just don’t forget to tell them about those unsuspecting filthy kitchen towels.
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“Study reveals germiest spot in your kitchen” March 26, 2015, Newsmax Health, newsmax.com