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Nearly half of all kitchen sinks harbor high levels of potentially dangerous bacteria

August 6, 2008

Nearly half of all kitchen sinks harbor high levels of potentially dangerous bacteria, according to a new international study sponsored by Lysol. In fact, investigators swabbing for bacteria in the U.S. and around the world found that 46% of kitchen sinks harbor unsatisfactory or heavily contaminated levels of bacteria, including E. coli.

Americans’ current kitchen cleaning habits don’t help protect their families from illness-causing germs, according to the new study from the Hygiene Council, a group of leading international infectious disease specialists. Despite 90% of U.S. respondents claiming to clean their kitchen surfaces at least two to three times per week, a quarter of kitchen sinks analyzed failed the hygiene test for having unsatisfactory or heavily contaminated levels of bacteria. “This tells us that while most American families make a concerted effort to try and keep their homes clean and safe, they are not following basic hygiene habits to help protect themselves and their children,” said John Oxford, chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at St. Bartholomew’s & The Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The Hygiene Council is comprised of infectious disease specialists from around the globe and is now in its third year working to dispel myths about germs and educate consumers about basic hygiene practices, such as proper hand washing, food handling and regular surface disinfection. For the 2008 Hygiene Council study, investigators examined more than 1,120 household surfaces in seven countries around the world (Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Kingdom and the U.S.) to look for bacteria and learn more about families’ hygiene habits.

The study also found that kitchen cloths and sponges are germ hot spots—nearly 90% of them examined globally had unsatisfactory or worse levels of disease-causing bacteria. Seventy-five percent of American kitchen cloths and sponges failed the hygiene test, including 25% of those that appeared new or visibly clean. Sadly, Americans’ filthy cloths and sponges were shown to be the “cleanest” in the world according to the Hygiene Council study.

“Even the cleanest kitchen cloth or sponge is a potential bacterial bomb because it can spread germs from surface to surface, cross contaminating everything it touches. People need to be educated about how to prevent this type of germ-spread in order to protect their families from illness,” said Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D., U.S. representative to the Hygiene Council and director of Clinical Microbiology and Diagnostic Immunology at New York University Medical Center. More info:
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