Fifty per cent of restaurants use dishcloths that could make you ill
Following stints with Reuters and the Press Association, Martin Hickman joined The Independent as a news editor in 2001. He became the Consumer Affairs Correspondent in September 2005 and has run the paper's trenchant campaigns on packaging, bank charges and factory-farmed chicken. He writes on subjects as diverse as food, finance, energy and fashion. With Tom Watson, he is author of a new book on the phone hacking scandal, Dial M for Murdoch - News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain.
Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 15 September 2010
Half of restaurants and takeaways harbour high levels of bacteria which can cause food poisoning, new research shows.
Scientists tested 133 dishcloths from 120 restaurants and takeaways in the North-east of England and discovered that 56 per cent had an unacceptable level of bacteria, more than 10,000 per cloth. Enterobacteriaceae was found on 86 cloths, E.coli on 21, Staphylococcus aureus on six, and listeria on five. The bacteria can cause unpleasant, and occasionally fatal, food poisoning.
If represented across Britain's 58,000 restaurants, the study by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) suggests that about 32,000 food establishments are putting diners at risk of illness. It is estimated that about 4.5 million people in England and Wales suffer food-borne disease such as salmonella and E.coli every year.
Although restaurants are urged to use disposable cloths, the investigation found that only 32 per cent followed the advice. The majority used reusable cloths, with some using those cloths for more than a day before disinfecting them. Dr John Piggott, of the HPA's microbiology laboratory in Leeds, who led the study, said: "It is of concern that despite recommendations to use disposable cloths, the majority of restaurants were reusing cleaning cloths, and some were unaware how often they changed them.
"Although many disinfected their cloths using bleach or other disinfectants, soaking does not remove the food on which the bacteria grow. The disinfectant qualities of bleach do wear off after a period of time so soaking large amounts of cloths together can result in bacteria contaminating more cloths."
Dr Paul Cosford, the executive director of health protection services at HPA, said: "Exposure to this 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."
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Men in tights: getting to the bottom of the latest trend
City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Eight-year-old girl Camilla Lisant suggests possible cancer treatment to her scientist father over the dinner table
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
- 3 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
iJobs Food & Drink
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...