Local News

Most Home Kitchens Unlikely To Pass Sanitation Inspection

Posted February 5, 2002

— Each week, WRAL's Five on Your Side provides

sanitation ratings

from North Carolina restaurants so the public can know the condition of the kitchens where food is prepared. But what if an inspector came into your home?

A new study finds that most home kitchens would fail a sanitation inspection.

According to the study conducted by Audits International, 74 percent of inspected household kitchens critically violated the

FDA's Food Safety Code

. The major culprits were sponges and dishcloths used to clean countertops, sinks and utensils.

Researchers at the University of Arizona tested sponges and dishcloths from 1,000 kitchens in five major U.S cities.

In some cities, one out of five sponges had salmonella. At least two-thirds of the sponges tested contained some form of bacteria that could make a person very ill. The bacteria included salmonella, E. coli, and staphylococcus.

The bacteria findings led the researchers to conclude that "some kitchen sinks harbored more harmful bacteria than flushed toilets."

To add to the problem, researchers pointed out that meticulous kitchen cleaners may be making the bacterial problem worse by spreading germs around through constant cleaning with the same sponges or dishcloths.

There are ways to prevent the spread of bacteria:

  • Always use clean sponges and dishcloths and towels.
  • Never use a dishcloth or towel that has air-dried overnight.
  • Sanitize dishcloths by soaking them for 5 minutes in a solution made of 1 cup household bleach to 1 gallon of water.
  • After a sponge comes in contact with a dirty surface or with raw meat juices, toss it into the dishwasher to be disinfected by the sanitizing cycle.
  • Sanitize a wet sponge by heating it in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave oven for about two minutes so that it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
  • Use paper towels for cleaning up in the kitchen. Use them once and throw them away.
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