New Safefood research ‘dishes the dirt’ on dishcloths
New research published this week by Safefood – the body responsible for promoting food safety and nutrition – revealed that 27% of household dishcloths contain the raw meat bacteria E. Coli. The research – unveiled as part of a major campaign by safefood to make Northern Ireland consumers aware that everyday kitchen habits can cause food poisoning – also found Listeria on 14% of 200 household dishcloths analysed by scientists. Scientists also found that simply soaking dishcloths in a bleach solution or rinsing them under the tap cannot be relied upon to clean them effectively.
Dr. Gary Kearney, Director, Food Science, safefood, said, “The dishcloth is a familiar sight in almost every kitchen on the island of Ireland, but if not cleaned properly can be a source of food poisoning – especially if used to wipe worktops where we prepare raw meat, raw poultry and raw vegetables. A damp dishcloth can serve as a breeding ground for germs, especially if we leave it crumpled up overnight to dry. Using it again before properly cleaning means germs can spread to other surfaces in the kitchen.”
While over a third (36%) of consumers who re-use dishcloths clean them in a bleach solution, Safefood’s scientific research found that this method was not as effective at removing germs that can cause food poisoning.
Dr. David McCleery, Chief Specialist in Microbiology, added: “Our research found that washing kitchen dishcloths in a washing machine or boiling them in water for 15 minutes were the most effective ways to properly clean them. Soaking, washing under the tap or washing in the dishwasher just aren’t as effective. Ideally, we should also wash dishcloths every two days. If you’ve used a dishcloth to wipe up after raw meat, raw poultry or raw vegetables, then you should replace it immediately with a clean one. And if there’s a noticeable smell from your dishcloth, then it’s definitely time to change it.”
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