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Hidden Kitchen Germs Threaten Families
Date:6/25/2008

Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The Hygiene Council is comprised of leading 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 United States) to look for bacteria and learn more about families' hygiene habits.(6)

The study also found that kitchen cloths and sponges are germ hot spots in the kitchen -- nearly 90 percent of kitchen cloths and sponges(7) examined globally had unsatisfactory or worse levels of disease-causing bacteria.(8) The study showed the cloths and sponges we use to clean our kitchens actually harbored bacteria that can indicate the presence of feces, E. coli and Salmonella, which can easily spread and make families sick.(9) In fact, 80% of Salmonella cases alone are acquired at home through cross contamination, and not in a restaurant.(10)

Investigators found a shocking 75 percent of American kitchen cloths and sponges failed the hygiene test,(11) including 25 percent of those that appeared new or visibly clean.(12) Among Americans who reported changing their cloth or sponge once a week, 80 percent still had unsatisfactory or worse levels of bacteria on their cloth or sponge.(13) Despite the threat, only 25 percent of Americans queried in a companion survey expressed concern that they are most likely to come into contact with germs on their cloth or sponge in the kitchen.(14)

Even more startling, Americans' filthy cloths and sponges were shown to be the 'cleanest' in the world according to the Hygiene Council study -- cleaner than Germany, the U.K. and Saudi Arabia.(15) "Even the 'clea
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