Restaurant dishcloths harbour bacteria15th September 2010
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said cloths used to clean restaurants can potentially be a breeding ground for "dangerous" bacteria.
A team from the HPA carried out visits to 120 restaurant kitchens in North East England. They discovered that more than half (56%) of dish cloths contained "unacceptable" bacteria, including Listeria or faecal bateria.
Recommendations for restaurant hygiene include using different cloths to clean surfaces used to prepare uncooked meat and to use cloths that can be thrown away after use.
The HPA researchers looked at 133 cloths and discovered that 86 harboured faecal bacteria, 21 had E coli, six had Staphylococcus aureus and five carried Listeria.
The researchers said the Staphylococcus and Listeria strains were "potentially harmful".
The team said 24 of the restaurants used the same cloths in areas where raw meat was prepared and also in other areas where food was made.
Two-thirds of the restaurants did not use disposable cloths, with 15% uncertain as to how regularly the cloths were replaced.
Dr Paul Cosford, also from the HPA, added: "The findings indicate problems with poor hygiene practices."
"Exposure to these harmful bacteria can cause food poisoning which is unpleasant for most people but for some - particularly the very young, very old, and pregnant women - it can have serious consequences."
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