Study: Most people spread dangerous bacteria at home without realizing it

A  USDA study finds that most people do not properly wash their hands while cooking at home nearly 97 percent of the time.
Caption
A USDA study finds that most people do not properly wash their hands while cooking at home nearly 97 percent of the time.

Credit: laterjay, Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage

Credit: laterjay, Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage

Most people fail to properly wash their hands 97 percent of the time when they're cooking at home, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“As a mother of three young children, I am very familiar with the mad dash families go through to put dinner on the table,” said Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety at the USDA. “You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria. By simply washing your hands properly, you can protect your family and prevent that bacteria from contaminating your food and key areas in your kitchen.”

Most participants did not wash their hands at home for the necessary 20 seconds and most did not use a clean towel to dry their hands, researchers from the USDA, RTI International and North Carolina State University found.

When it comes to cooking and preparing food, only 34 percent used a food thermometer to check meat temperature. Out of those who did, nearly half still did not cook the food to a safe temperature.

Spice containers are one of the most contaminated items in a kitchen, researchers said.

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Bacteria from raw poultry can spread quickly to refrigerator handles and other foods.

Roughly 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illness every year, resulting in over 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

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