Kitchen Bacteria Found to Be Mostly Harmless

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Humans are frequently exposed to various microbes that may have beneficial and harmful effects on their health. Since the indoor microbiome contains a variety of microorganisms, a large portion of microbial exposure occurs indoors. Kitchens have been found to have the most significant levels of bacterial colonization in the household environment.

Microbes from handling and preparing food, water, the air, and people can contaminate kitchens. Additionally, kitchen sponges are the most contaminated items in a home, so their contamination is a significant source of bacterial spread in kitchens. When used, kitchen sponges collect bacteria, food soils, and humidity. Because they dry slowly, this causes bacteria to thrive to high levels.  

According to research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the bacteria discovered in 74 kitchens dispersed over five different European countries were essentially harmless. 

According to Birgitte Moen, Ph.D., Scientist—Department of Food Safety and Quality, Nofima—Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, s, Norway, “We have previously discovered significant variations in kitchen standards, food preparation practices, and cleaning regimes between France, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Hungary. 

The study sampled bacteria populations from sinks, cutting boards, countertops, handles, and kitchen-related cleaning tools like sponges and cloths. The researchers found eight bacterial genera frequently linked to environmental sources in most of the kitchens they studied, which they referred to as the “core microbiota,” despite numerous species and significant variations in bacterial diversity between samples. Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Enhydrobacter, Enterobacteriaceae, Psychrobacter, Chryseobacterium, Bacillus, and Staphylococcus were among them. 

The report’s authors emphasized that the core microbiome persisted despite significant variations between study kitchens. In several kitchens, there was no running water, indoor sink, or dishwasher. They continued despite variations in food preparation techniques, dietary preferences, and hand- and kitchen-hygiene practices, all affecting the likelihood of infection. 

According to Moen, the authors’ curiosity led to the study. Although there has been extensive research on bacteria in food, the gut, hospitals, and commercial food production, little is known about the germs in the home kitchen. As a result of an international relationship that already existed, “we had a unique opportunity to dig into this,” Moen continued. 

The crew knew that different countries had different types of dangerous bacteria and that these bacteria entered kitchens through tainted food. Salmonella, for instance, is not a concern in Norway, despite being the most often reported cause of illnesses linked to food in continental Europe. According to Moen, understanding the bacteria that live in the average home kitchen might help avoid disease and lead to more sanitary kitchen layouts and better cleaning tools. 

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