Many cases of food poisoning originate in the domestic environment and can be associated with improper food handling and ineffective cleaning by consumers. These practices could lead to the introduction and spread of bacterial contamination in the kitchen and if not subsequently removed could present an infection risk. This study proposes investigating changes in levels of bacterial contamination at five key sites in ten domestic kitchens during a period of 24 hours.
Microbiological swabs were used to provide an aerobic colony count and an Enterobacteriacea count. A record was kept of cooking, cleaning and other activities within the kitchen.
Results showed that contamination levels varied during the day, peaking after meal preparation and generally falling overnight. There was also indirect evidence of cross contamination, particularly from hands to other surfaces. Sites such as the refrigerator handle, kettle handle and taps, which generally only come into contact with hands, show increases in the levels of contamination recorded. Levels of microbiological contamination were lower in vegetarian than non‐vegetarian households. A variety of data showed that non‐food preparation activities also take place in the kitchen. These could also introduce bacterial contamination into the kitchen and facilitate their spread.
The implications of these results are that the most important time for cleaning in the kitchen is immediately after food has been prepared, with attention focussing on high risk areas such as the work surface, chopping board, taps and other hand contact surfaces.
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