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   Dec 17

The hidden dangers lurking in your kitchen: Chopping boards harbour 200% more faecal bacteria than toilet seats and potatoes and leeks can give you food poisoning

New survey reveals 40% of all food poisoning cases are caused by poor hygiene in the home

E.coli, salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria can spread via chopping boards that haven’t been cleaned properly

Food hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley warned all raw meat, poultry and vegetables should be seen as a risk

She said the only way to be safe is to use a disinfectant spray or wipe or wash utensils in the dishwasher

Advises washing hands twice after handling raw chicken – and says it’s vital to rub hands together to remove germs

The humble chopping board is integral to even the most basic of kitchen cupboards.

From raw meat to organic root vegetables, most of what we eat will pass across its surface en route to pan or oven.

Now, a new survey has revealed the chopping board to be one of the most dangerous utensils, harbouring 200 per cent more faecal bacteria than the average toilet seat.

The research, commissioned by the Global Hygiene Council, found 40 per cent of all food poisoning cases are caused by poor hygiene in the home.

Almost half of all frequently touched items in the home, including chopping boards, are contaminated with harmful bacteria including E.coli.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, food hygiene expert and Global Hygiene Council representative, said: ‘In all surveys I have ever done focusing on the home, chopping boards come out really badly, the reason being because people don’t clean them properly.

This infographic reveals the hidden dangers lurking on your chopping board. A survey revealed the average chopping board has around 200 per cent more faecal bacteria on it than the average toilet seat

‘People pay lots of attention to the toilet, using lots of disinfectant and think that is the dirtiest place in the house.

‘But nearly every study I have been a part of, it is the kitchen where the most dangerous bacteria lurks.

‘Raw meat, raw vegetables and poultry are the culprits.

‘People aren’t aware that the organisms are invisible, and so people aren’t taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

‘The first thing is to understand where your enemy is.

‘Raw meat, vegetables and poultry harbour E.coli, salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria – more than 60 per cent of raw chicken contains Campylobacter bacteria.


Chopping boards have been found to harbour around 200 per cent more faecal bacteria than the average toilet seat

89 per cent of kitchen cleaning cloths and towels, which come into contact with surfaces such as chopping boards, have been found to have unsatisfactory levels of contamination

Since more than 60 per cent of raw chicken has been found to be contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, which is the most common cause of food poisoning in Britain, chopping board is at high risk of becoming contaminated

The Hygiene Council advises using disinfectant wipes on kitchen surfaces

E.coli, found on raw meats, poultry and unwashed salads and vegetables, can spread via chopping boards that have not been thoroughly disinfected.

As few as 500 Campylobacter bacteria or just 10 E.coli organisms can cause food poisoning
40 per cent of food poisoning cases occur because of poor home hygiene

Almost 50 per cent of the most frequently touched items in the kitchen are contaminated with harmful bacteria

Wooden chopping boards can easily get damaged in the dishwasher so should be disinfected by hand
The Hygiene Council advises using disinfectant wipes, such as Dettol anti-bacterial surface wipes, on chopping boards, killing 99.9 per cent of bacteria

‘Basically if you have raw chicken in your home, you are likely to have Campylobacter bacteria.

‘The best approach is to assume all raw meat and vegetables pose a risk.’

Dr Ackerley said a few years ago an outbreak of E.coli left experts baffled, until they discovered the common link was leeks and potatoes.

Around 250 people were affected, suffering violent food poisoning.

‘You tend to eat those vegetables cooked,’ she told MailOnline.

‘But it is easy to forget that these root vegetables were pulled from the ground and so were covered in organisms and bacteria from the ground.

‘This is especially the case for organic vegetables, which have been fertilised in animal manure.

‘If you wash them in the sink, you can transfer the bacteria to your hands and the washing up bowl.

‘So it is vital people wash their hands properly after preparing them.’

Describing the ‘journey of the germ’, Dr Ackerley explained how bacteria, which is harmless in one place, makes it to the gut where it becomes dangerous, threatening to trigger food poisoning.

She said organisms are picked up on a person’s hand and when they fail to wash their hands properly, the bacteria can be spread quickly through the home, landing on any surface a person touches.

‘Some of these bacteria are very infectious, even in small numbers,’ she said. ‘Just a few organisms on a person’s hand can be transferred to door handles, tea towels, cloths and other surfaces where they multiply quickly.

‘If someone else comes along and touches the contaminated surfaces, they can pick up the bacteria, and if they then eat something with their hands, could be at risk of food poisoning.

‘The simple act of really washing your hands properly will really destroy most bacteria and stop it spreading.

‘As few as 500 Campylobacter bacteria or just 10 E.coli organisms can cause food poisoning. You would need to have millions of E.coli in one place before you could see them.’

Dr Ackerley said while many people just ‘swill’ their hands in warm water, it is not sufficient to kill harmful bacteria.

In fact, it is the act of rubbing your hands together that will rid them of the bacteria, rather than the hot water killing it off.

‘To kill bacteria you need water much hotter than it is bearable to touch,’ she told MailOnline. ‘It is the rubbing action of washing your hands that rids your hands of the bacteria.

‘The water doesn’t kill it off but rubbing your hands together for longer than 20 seconds and really getting under the nails will remove the organisms.

‘If I really manhandle chicken, like if I am marinading it, I will always wash my hands twice. Anti-bacterial hand wash really helps too.’

But she said as important as washing your hands, is disinfecting all kitchen utensils and surfaces after preparing raw meat and vegetables.

For some utensils the dishwasher is the best option, as long as the wash is at least 65°C, Dr Ackerley said.

But for surfaces and chopping boards, it is important to use disinfectant, she added.

‘A lot of Government advice suggests having different coloured chopping boards for meat and veg, but in reality that doesn’t happen,’ she said.

‘The only way to control bacteria and stop the spread is to use disinfectant. If you can touch it, disinfect it, just using water won’t kill the bacteria.’

Washing up without using disinfectant merely transfers and spreads the bacteria from the chopping board to washing up brush or cloth and tea towel.

The only fail safe way to combat these organisms is to use the dishwasher or disinfectant, she added.

And when it comes to kitchen cloths, Dr Ackerley said the only way to ensure they are safe is to put them through the washing machine, or boil them in water everyday.

She said: ‘The reason your kitchen cloth smells is because it is infested with bacteria.

‘Seventy-five per cent of kitchen cloths have traces of E.coli, so either bin them each day or make sure you wash them at a high temperature everyday.’

But she said, people do not have to ‘completely panic’.

‘This isn’t about having a major deep clean every day, rather targeted cleaning,’ she reassured.

‘Cleaning the right place at the right time and avoiding touching things like raw meat and vegetables as much as possible.’

She said when preparing chicken, for example, she uses a fork to chop it up and transfer it straight to the pan, before immediately disinfecting and cleaning the utensils she has used.

‘That way I am avoiding transferring any bacteria around my home,’ she said.

The Hygiene Council advises using disinfectant wipes, such as Dettol anti-bacterial surface wipes, on chopping boards as they eliminate 99.9 per cent of bacteria.

Food Standards Agency: ‘The truth about campylobacter’

Source: Daily Mail

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