MedWatch-Foodborne illnesses

MedWatch-Foodborne illnesses

(ABC) -About nine percent of foodborne illness outbreaks occur in the home, but it's almost impossible for most people to know where the bacteria may live.

A new study finds cloth towels and sink faucets are commonly cross-contaminated during the preparation of a meal.

Dr. Susan Rehm did not take part in the study, but treats infectious diseases at Cleveland Clinic.

"When we prepare meals and we're in contact with raw meat or poultry, anything we touch may be contaminated," Dr. Rehm said.

Kansas State University researchers analyzed the food prep practices of 123 people. They found high levels of cross-contamination in cloth towels. Researchers observed many people using a contaminated towel, washing their hands and then contaminating themselves all over again. In fact, other researchers found salmonella growing on cloths stored overnight, even after they were washed and rinsed in the sink. That's why they recommend using paper towels when preparing food and discarding them after each use.

Eighty-two percent of participants also left contamination on the sink faucet, refrigerator, oven and trash container. If you use a cell phone or tablet for recipes, be careful…both can potentially be cross-contaminated when you're handling meat and poultry.

Dr. Rehm says this is good information to think about, especially since we are now into grilling season.

"When we use tongs, or a fork, or something else to put raw poultry or meat on the grill, we should wash it afterward, especially when you're going to be touching the finished product and putting it on a plate to server," Dr. Rehm said.

Complete findings for the study "Consumer Food Handling Practices Lead to Cross-Contamination," can be found in the journal "Food Protection Trends."

In other health news, April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month and the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton is having the 'Just say ahh' screenings Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m. until noon. For more information or to make an appointment, call 580-250-6565.

Copyright 2016 ABC. All rights reserved.