The researchers said the amount of bacteria found on towels was influenced by several factors, including family size and the type of food consumed. It was found almost half of the towels (49 percent) had bacterial growth.
Bacteria were also found in higher volumes on tea towels in households with larger families and on damp tea towels used before they had adequately dried.
Of the 49 towels that carried pathogens, nearly three-quarters grew coliform bacteria (a type that may include E. coli); 36.7 percent grew Enterococcus; and 14.3 percent grew staphylococcus aureus, a type of staph that can cause serious infections.
Researchers collected 100 towels after one month of use.
A new research has found that dirty kitchen towels can cause food poisoning due to the growth of pathogens in them. The findings were presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
Researchers found bacteria growth, including E.coli, developed on cloths that were used multiple times.
In order to keep your kitchen towels clean and minimize the risk of food poisoning, change them regularly, allow them to dry thoroughly, stick to single uses, and wash your hands regularly.
Only use tea towels on clean, washed dishes.
"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels", ANI news reported Susheela D. Biranjia-Hurdoyal, the lead author on the study as saying.
Ever wonder how much bacteria is growing on your kitchen towel?
"Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged", Dr. Biranjia-Hurdoyal said.
"This will reduce the opportunity for bacteria to grow to potentially unsafe levels", he said.
He said, "The key advice is to remain attentive to food safety when preparing food in the home, which includes proper hand-washing, avoiding cross-contamination, and cooking and storing foods at the right temperatures". "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", she said. The rate of isolation of Staphylococcus aureus was higher for families of lower socioeconomic status and those with children. Critical observations of the research conclude that multiple uses of the towels may give rise to cross-contamination by potential pathogens. But "it doesn't surprise me at all that something that's in a kitchen environment has bacteria on it".