The gross reason you should always use a fresh tea towel

Non-vegetarian diets were found to increase the risk of contamination by bacteria such as E. coli.

The analysis of 100 kitchen towels after a month of use revealed the presence of coliform (Escherichia coli or E. coli) was greater in towels kept in warm, damp conditions - where bacteria populations flourish.

Another 14 percent contained Staphylococcus aureus, which, if it gets into food, can produce toxins triggering food poisoning, per Live Science. Tea towels are home to a number of pathogens that could potentially cause food poisoning.

"Cross-contamination is happening in the kitchen, and those bacteria could reach our food and cause food poisoning", said lead researcher Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal.

Family composition and hygiene practices are associated with the microbial load of kitchen towels, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held from June 7 to 11 in Atlanta. Paul Dawson, a food scientist at Clemson University, pointed out that E.coli as a general genus and species is not a problem, despite being in the news a lot: "But there are specific types that can cause problems, like the ones recently found on romaine lettuce".

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The towels for multi-purpose usage - wiping utensils, drying hands, holding hot utensils, wiping/cleaning surfaces - had a higher bacterial count than single-use towels, and humid towels showed higher bacterial count than the dry ones.

Further, S. aureus was isolated at a higher rate from families of lower socio-economic status and those with children.

To keep germs from spreading, health experts recommend washing or changing kitchen towels, sponges, and oven gloves regularly and letting them dry before using them again.

"Furthermore, reusing contaminated towels to wipe hands or other surfaces can easily lead to cross-contamination, and therefore should not be reused throughout meal preparation, since they too can contribute to contamination of hands, surfaces or other food products", Sauer said. In light of a new study from the University of Mauritius, you might want to get on that, fast!

The new research also states that regular cleaning may be even more important for large families, particularly those with children, according to Biranjia-Hurdoyal. "Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen", she added.

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