Clean kitchen surfaces and protect yourself from harmful bacteria

Food can spread dangerous microbes, and it’s a good idea to keep your kitchen surfaces clean if you want to protect yourself from disease. However, such a task takes time and mostly requires chemicals. Many people are concerned that excessive cleaning can damage the natural bacterial flora. This is because it contributes to human health. Therefore, scientists recently carried out research focusing on when people from several European countries clean their kitchen surfaces.

When should people clean the kitchen surfaces

woman with protective mask cleaning wooden kitchen worktop with detergent

Kitchen countertops that appear clean can actually lead to infections from pathogenic bacteria. The researchers found that most consumers clean their kitchen counters and cutting boards right after the food is prepared. Such a measure is always preventive to remove pathogens from raw meat or dirty vegetables. However, removing all bacteria is not the main goal. So the scientists wanted to find out if spilled food, which usually contains dangerous bacteria, could be seen on kitchen surfaces. Three different types of food spills such as chicken, eggs and lettuce in varying concentrations were put on countertops and cutting boards by consumers. The study participants reported how visible such food pollution was. Less than half of consumers have been able to visually detect levels of spills that may contain enough dangerous bacteria to make them sick.

Pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella can survive for a long time on spilled food such as eggs

In this way, harmful bacteria can be absorbed directly through the hands or through transfer to other foods. These are usually found on kitchen surfaces and are not cooked. This would be bread or fruit, for example. Another crucial factor is what material the kitchen surface is made of. It was found to be easier to spot food spills on laminated surfaces. The three types of food spills were chosen because they may contain the pathogenic bacteria Campylobacter and Salmonella. However, it is also worth noting that there are large differences in the distribution of these bacteria between different European countries. To study the survivability of the pathogenic bacteria Campylobacter and Salmonella, the scientists mixed them into the spilled food and water. Then they let the bacteria dry out on a surface.

Study results

Clean kitchen surfaces with accessories such as rubber gloves, sponge and brush

Bacteria on clean surfaces die fairly quickly, but survive longer when in food that is spilled. In addition, the scientists found that pathogens such as Salmonella lasted longer than Campylobacter. The greatest risk is immediately after food is spilled. So the best way to reduce the risk of infection is to clean up immediately after handling raw meat like this. The results suggest that keeping things visibly clean is not enough to protect yourself and others from bacterial infections. Therefore, the scientists wanted to find out how many people clean their kitchen surfaces and routinely tidy up immediately after food has been prepared. Almost 10,000 people from ten European countries took part in the survey. These countries were Denmark, France, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Great Britain, Germany and Hungary.

clean kitchen worktop with fruits and vegetables next to water jug ​​and kitchen board

There are several reasons why people clean their kitchen surfaces. There can be social and cultural reasons. An average of 73% of European consumers say they clean their kitchen counters and cutting boards immediately after use. The second most common opportunity to clean kitchen surfaces is just before you start preparing food. The Norwegians, for example, have a European average of 53%. At the bottom is Spain with 42%, while 62% in Romania clean the surfaces of kitchen counters before they start preparing food. So it is these people who benefit most from developing new habits. Hence the subject is after this study so important because pathogenic bacteria are invisible to the naked eye.