`Kitchen cloths most unhygienic item in Indian households`

New Delhi: Cloths used for cleaning utensils and other materials in kitchen are the dirtiest items in an Indian household, while the kitchen taps are the second most unhygienic, according to a study.

Dish drying towels, kitchen cleaning cloths and sponges are the most contaminated items providing an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, said the study `Cross-Contamination - Food for Thought?`, which was conducted by Hygiene Council and supported by Reckitt Benckiser.

"Towels, cloths and sponges often provide the perfect damp conditions for bacteria to grow and multiply and are responsible for spreading germs around the kitchen... 100 per cent of swabbed kitchen cloths in India were heavily contaminated and were found to be the dirtiest item in Indian households," it added.

As these items can become contaminated after preparing just one meal, so they should be properly cleaned and disinfect frequently, the study said.

Besides, the research study found out that "95 per cent of kitchen taps in India failed the hygiene test, making it the second dirtiest item in Indian household".

It is also suggested by the findings that raw meat should not be washed in the sink prior to cooking as this spreads bacteria around the entire sink area.

"The study indicates that there is a need for more public education on which foods can potentially be contaminated, how cross-contamination and cross-infection occurs and how to take proper food and personal hygiene precautions in the kitchen," the study said.

It further said in 92 per cent cases, chopping boards and knives were found to be contaminated as bacteria spread to cutting surfaces, utensils, cloths and other foods from raw meat and vegetables during preparation.

Another worrying revelation was regarding the kids, who are very prone to unhygienic conditions.

The study said that 45 per cent of mothers do not wash fruit and 51 per cent mothers do not wash vegetables before eating. Only 44 per cent of mothers clean and disinfect their child`s lunch box every day.

"While over 60 per cent of children are made to wash their hands before lunch and after using the restrooms, only 44 per cent are made to wash their hands after playing outside," it added.

It further said proper food safety involves washing hands prior to cooking or after handling raw foods, correct cooking and storage, besides usage of "disinfectants at critical points".