"Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels", said Dr Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, of the University of Mauritius.
Repeated use of the tea towels in the kitchen may be putting the families at risk of food poisonings finds study. Out of 100 towels collected for the study, the researchers found that 49 percent contained bacterial growth and the figure increased in the families that had more of members, presence of kids and increasing family size.
Multipurpose towels (used for wiping plates, cutlery, kitchen surfaces, hands) had a higher bacterial count than single-use ones while humid towels were found to have a higher bacterial count than the dry ones. The scientists took samples from the towels - which had been used, without being washed, for one month - and cultured, or grew, these samples in lab dishes.
The research found staphylococcus was more likely to be found on towels from families with children and of lower socio-economic status.
Still, some strains of E.coli can cause food poisoning and experts say there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family in the kitchen.
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.
To avoid food poisoning, Biranjia-Hurdoyal advised not to use damp or multi-purpose towels in the kitchen, and to "be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen" in bigger households. Therefore, people should be sure to clean and dry their kitchen towels often, according to Dawson. Both coliforms and staphylococcus species of bacteria were higher in families that ate meat. The more you use a paper towel, the higher the odds germs spread.
Wash your hands. USDA suggest washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, whether it's before you cook or after handling raw meat and its packaging.
Their thorough research work reveals that the multiple use towel shows the presence of Escherichia coli.
"The data indicated that unhygienic practices while handling non-vegetarian food could be common in the kitchen", she said with regards to the potential for cross-contamination in the kitchen.