Choosing disinfectant wipes over dish cloths could be the key to eliminating food poisoning, scientists have discovered.
A study looking at the spread of Campylobacter - the bacteria traditionally associated with poultry products - found that using a disinfectant wipe to clean a contaminated work surface after preparing chicken fillets was far more successful in decreasing the risk of infection.
In fact, scientists suggest that ditching dish cloths in favour of disinfectant wipes could cut the risk of food poisoning by up to 99%.
Researchers from the University of Arizona used disinfectant wipes on typical kitchen countertops including granite, laminate and ceramic tiles.
The results from the study were fed into a computer to calculate the potential risk reduction when using disinfectant wipes.
They found that the risk was dramatically reduced from two in 10, to two in 1,000.
Lead author Dr Lopez revealed: "The scary thing about Campylobacter is that you really don't need to ingest that many bacteria to get a nasty illness.
"So we have to wipe clean our kitchen surfaces and wash our hands after preparing poultry."
Dr Lopez added: "We found that it's not just the physical removal of bacteria by the wipe that helps - the antibacterial solution left behind on the counter surface continues to disinfect over the next few minutes.
"It's also important that consumers clean up with a wipe straight after preparing poultry. If drips and splatters from the meat remain, bacteria can transfer to other foods from dirty surfaces and utensils."
He noted that if these "splatters" from poultry are allowed to dry, the bacteria can sometimes stick to the work surface, which makes it even harder to clean.
He also suggested that disinfectant wipes could be as effective on other types of bacteria including E.coli, Salmonella and Norovirus. His team are now looking to test this theory.
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Despite disinfectant wipes being particularly effective at removing traces of bacteria from hands, Dr Lopez emphasised the importance of washing hands properly after handling chicken.
In the UK, there are over half a million cases of food poisoning a year from known pathogens, according to the Food Standards Agency.
Of these 500,000 cases, Campylobacter is the most common foodborne pathogen, causing roughly 280,000 cases of illness every year.
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, an FSA spokesperson said: “We continue to emphasise the importance of washing or changing dish cloths, tea towels, sponges and oven gloves regularly in order to significantly reduce the risk of cross contamination in the kitchen.
"Equipment and surfaces that have come into contact with raw food should be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water, for example chopping boards, utensils, food containers and pots.
"It is also important to ensure sinks and taps are regularly cleaned.”
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.
[H/T Daily Mail]