Your Health

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Are You Unknowingly Making Yourself And Others Sick?

Germs were found on everyday kitchen appliances and tools that come in direct contact with food, especially raw produce, meat, poultry, seafood and ready-to-eat food.

As a result of these actions, people may be unknowingly making themselves, family and friends sick. The lesson we can all learn as consumers is to follow manufacturers’ directions when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing kitchen tools and appliances. A 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study revealed:

•  E. coli36 percent of items contained E. coli. Items with E. coli included the refrigerator meat compartment, rubber spatula, blender gasket, can opener and pizza cutter.

•  Salmonella36 percent of items had Salmonella including the refrigerator vegetable and meat compartments, can opener, blender gasket and the rubber seal on a food storage container.

•  Yeast and Mold – All 14 items (100 percent) tested positive for yeast and mold, and six items (43 percent) tested positive at concerning levels. The six items with concerning levels of yeast and mold were the refrigerator vegetable compartment, rubber spatula, blender gasket, refrigerator ice and water dispensers, and the rubber seal on a food storage container.

•  Listeria14 percent of items tested positive for Listeria. The refrigerator vegetable compartment contained Listeria, as did the refrigerator door seal.

Other findings from NSF’s 2013 Germ Study include:

Dark moist environments breed germs, even in the refrigerator: The study found that kitchen items that were located in damp and dark areas consistently tested positive for harmful bugs such as E. coli and Listeria.

Harmful bacteria are found on items that touch food: NSF scientists observed that 36 percent of the items tested positive for E. coli, and these items come into direct contact with food.

Germs build up in kitchen items that aren’t often disassembled and cleaned: Appliances and utensils that are not properly disassembled and cleaned according to the manufacturer’s directions can harbor microorganisms. This highlights the need for consumer awareness of the importance of cleaning and food safety in homes.

Cross-contamination and yeast and mold: Storing food in contaminated storage containers or using water, ice or tools with high counts of yeast and mold may lead to food spoilage at a faster rate. For those with allergies to yeast and mold, these actions may lead to an allergenic response.