The kitchen: a hotbed for bacterial contamination and food poisoning
A study that gives the shivers…
It is a scientifically proven fact that our kitchens act as reservoirs for resistant bacteria that promote the spread of illnesses, which are more or less harmful to humans. Our culprits: poor food hygiene practices and improper maintenance of kitchen knives and utensils.
Researchers from the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland conducted a major study in their hospital’s kitchens and in individual’s homes throughout Switzerland, France and Germany. They found that the two culprits listed above are to blame.
The following lists the kitchen utensils that were contaminated with bacteria:
- Can openers
- Cutlery drawer organizers
- Knife blocks
- Microwave turntable plates
- Pizza cutters,
- Plastic spatulas
- Vegetable drawers in refrigerators
- Kitchen knives
Sponges, kitchen sinks and coffee machines were also proven to be carriers of bacteria.
Traces of Escherichia Coli (commonly known as E. Coli), a strain of bacteria carried by poultry and which is resistant to antibiotics, are often found in kitchens.
Beware of bacterial contamination!
Other than Escherichia Coli, Salmonella Enterica is another strain of bacteria that can often be found in the kitchen. It can be found on 25% of foods and kitchen utensils. Listeriosis can be found on 10% of these items.
It should be noted that these bacteria often provoke abdominal pains and diarrhea, which in very few cases may lead to potentially fatal hemorrhaging.
A journal called Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology published the results of the study, highlighting the fact that bacteria in the kitchen were increasingly resistant to antibiotics. This resistance is due to the fact that these bacteria have been overexposed to antibiotics (in both humans and animals).
One of the only ways to prevent bacterial contamination is to have good food hygiene practices, including proper upkeep of the kitchen, utensils and appliances such as: electronic devices, drawers, cutting boards, kitchen knives, etc.
The solution: thoroughly clean your kitchen knives and adopt meticulous hygiene practices in the kitchen
Food hygiene and specifically the proliferation of resistant bacteria is a popular subject amongst health professionals these days.
Health professionals confirm that they can implement fewer and fewer solutions in the battle against bacterial contamination due to the fact that the majority of antibiotics are increasingly inefficient at battling bacteria.
Lance Price, Ph.D. is a researcher at George Washington University in the United States. Price feels that the results published in the study conducted by Swiss scientists are very worrisome. Price specializes in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and he confirmed that: “the next step is a multi-resistant bacteria (that shows antibiotic resistance to the majority of antibiotics) and that will be a real nightmare.”
Simple ways to adopt proper hygiene practices in the kitchen
Even though these statements, which to some may seem almost apocalyptic, have not yet come into being, it does not mean that we should neglect proper food hygiene practices! The following lists a few simple tasks that can help in the battle against most types of bacterial contamination:
- Wash your hands very thoroughly before cooking and after handling foodstuffs
- Make sure that you are cooking on a clean surface. Be careful to wash cutting boards well as they often carry harmful germs. You must scrub them with hot water and dish soap. Wiping them down with a dishtowel will not clean them!
- Use ceramic knives as they are known for their hygienic qualities
- Use a specific kitchen knife for each type of foodstuff. For example, a dirty knife that was just used for cutting raw meat should not be used for cutting other foods as this can lead to the spread of various microbes. Avoid using a steak or meat knife for preparing fruits, vegetables or cheese
Handling kitchen knives: be careful with fruits and vegetables!
If you think that tips about eating fruits and vegetable on a regular basis to improve your health seem legitimate then you should be careful because approximately 26 different bacteria can be found on these products!
However you may reassure yourself because these bacteria may be less likely to be resistant. This fact should not keep you from respecting the following advice on how to adopt proper food hygiene practices:
- Be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them. Rinsing them with tap water is not complicated; it is effective against germs and should be part of everyone’s kitchen hygiene habits
- Thoroughly wash all kitchen utensils and kitchen knives used for cutting fruits and vegetables after each use in order to reduce cross contamination between different types of foods
- Opt for organic foods as they contain lower traces of fecal bacteria
It should also be noted that thoroughly cooking each ingredient is a very important factor in eliminating bacteria.