-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Dec. 25 (HealthDay News) -- As you prepare your
Christmas feast for your family, know that a new study finds that
kitchen utensils such as knives and graters are potential sources
of cross-contamination that can lead to foodborne illnesses.
Previous research has shown that meal preparation is a prime
period for food contamination. It's known that the transfer of
viruses and bacteria among hands, food and food-contact surfaces
occurs easily at this point, but there has been little research on
the role of kitchen utensils in this type of
In this study, researchers examined the transfer of the
hepatitis A virus and the norovirus (the leading cause of foodborne
illness in the United States) between different fruits and
vegetables and different knives or flat steel coarse graters. Tests
were conducted with uncontaminated utensils on contaminated produce
as well as with contaminated utensils on uncontaminated
The results showed that more than half of the uncontaminated
utensils became contaminated when used to prepare contaminated
produce. Using a contaminated utensil on uncontaminated produce
often led to contamination of the produce.
After an uncontaminated utensil was used on contaminated
produce, the utensil could cross-contaminate up to seven more
pieces of produce, said the study, published in the December issue
Food and Environmental Virology.
The findings show how easy it is for germs to transfer between
produce and utensils, according to study author Qing Wang and her
colleagues from the Center for Food Safety at the University of
"Great emphasis on utensils as virus vehicles should be placed, and it is important to provide knowledge and training for food workers and consumers to limit virus spread," the researchers concluded in a journal news release.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection
Service offers tips for
safe food handling.
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