You’ve probably heard horror stories about the germs lurking on your kitchen sponge, and maybe you’ve got a little aversion to touching the lid of the litter box.
But your spice rack could be the culprit that’s making you sick.
that is based on a study Commissioned by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
When it comes to cross-contamination, spice containers are the life and soul of the party.
While other surfaces showed signs of contamination less than 20 percent of the time, spice containers were contaminated almost half the time.
The study checked for cross-contamination by asking participants to make turkey burger patties and salads.
It wasn’t until after the participants had prepared their meals that they were told that researchers would be checking their food safety behaviors.
The turkeys contained a “tracer organism” called MS2, so researchers could track cross-contamination.
The researchers tested surfaces including knives, cutting boards, faucet handles and sponges and found that no more than one in five of all of them tested positive for MS2.
But when they tested the spice containers, 48 percent were contaminated with MS2.
This surprised even the researchers.
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Co-author Donald Schaffner, a professor in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University, said most studies on cross-contamination have looked at cutting boards and faucets, while ignoring other items touched during cooking, such as spice jars and utensils.
Cross-contamination of spice jars has not been documented before – but Professor Schaffner said this should remind home cooks to wipe them down after cooking.
The most unhygienic place in the kitchen:
• spice container
• chopping board
• trash can members
Where there is the least amount of cross-contamination:
• Faucet handles