Unexpected germ havens in your kitchen

kitchen bacteria study

New study shows blenders and fridge compartments are rife with bacteria.

A new study has highlighted several germ hot spots in our kitchens, and several are quite surprising. Blenders and fridge compartments ranked among the worst places for bacteria due to ineffective  cleaning.

The research from NSF (originally the National Sanitation Foundation), a leading public health organisation, looked at 14 kitchen items. The items were swabbed and tested for E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria, mold and yeast.

The worst offender for harbouring bacteria and germs was the vegetable crisper. Traces of Listeria and Salmonella were found on the vegetable compartment, along with mold and yeast. The NSF recommends cleaning refrigerator vegetable and meat drawers once a month with warm water and mild detergent.

The four other top bacteria havens are refrigerator meat compartments, rubber spatulas, blender gaskets and can openers. Yeast and mold were detected on all of these items. Both contaminants can cause allergies and respiratory illnesses in some people.

“Smoothies are popular these days and we found people don’t take their blenders apart when they wash them,” Lisa Yakas, a microbiologist at NSF International told Today.

“They just take the lid off and put the whole jar and blade assembly together in the dishwasher. Some people can’t get that blade unscrewed any more because it’s so caked together.”

While some of these microorganisms are harmless to physically robust people, “some strains are very virulent and can cause serious illness in otherwise healthy adults and children,” said Allison Aiello, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

Other bacteria spots on the list include refrigerator water and ice dispensers, knife blocks and Tupperware or food containers with rubber seals. NSF recommends people take apart blenders, food containers, can openers etc. where possible before washing.

“The thing to remember is: You can’t sterilize a dirty surface,” Yakas said. “Just make sure you get a cleaning routine in place so they don’t get a bio-film buildup where these (germs have a place to) stick and grab onto.”