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'Germiest' areas of a kitchen revealed in NSF International study

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YOUNGSTOWN, OHio - Twenty-percent of food borne illness outbreaks are cause by foods consumed right at home.

"These can harm everyone, but in particular they can be a real problem for those at risk populations, the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems," said NSF International microbiologist Lisa Yakas.

According to Yakas, and other microbiologists at NSF International, the most common reasons for food borne illness outbreaks are improper handling and preparation of food and improper food storage, which is why the organization launched a study to determine the 'germiest' areas of a kitchen. 

Volunteer families were asked to swab 14 common kitchen items.  They found the following items to be the six 'germiest' items containing micro-organisms that can cause a person to become ill:

  • Refrigerator vegetable compartment
  • Refrigerator meat compartment
  • Blender gasket
  • Can opener
  • Rubber spatulas
  • Food storage containers with rubber seals


"In our study we found germs like Listeria, E.coli, Salmonella and yeast and molds. And like I said these can be problem areas," said Yakas.

Yakas says it is important for families to get into a normal kitchen cleaning routine, which includes cleaning and sterilizing all counter tops, all kitchen surfaces, utensils and appliances.

"This is one of the biggest thing we can do to help protect those in our family and in our home," said Yakas.

She also suggests keeping raw and unwashed items away from pre-washed and ready to eat foods.  When cooking, use a meat thermometer and if you're having a picnic, toss any food after it has sat outside for more than one hour in the heat.

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