What Is the Germiest Part of Your Kitchen?

Refrigerator meat compartments, blender gaskets, can openers, and rubber spatulas are where the bulk of the germs live in your kitchen, according to a new study that suggests that we're all a bunch of filthy animals who essentially create petri dish-like environments out of our household items because we don't know how to properly clean them.

The study was conducted by NSF International, a nonprofit science organization, which enlisted 20 families to swab 14 different kitchen items—blender, can opener, flatware storage tray, food storage containers with rubber seals, knife block, microwave keypad, pizza cutter, spatula, strainer and refrigerator ice dispenser, water dispenser and meat and vegetable compartments—which were then analyzed for four types of microorganisms, E. coli, salmonella, yeast and mold, and listeria, that are linked to foodborne illness.

What they found was disgusting: 25% of items contained E. coli (the refrigerator meat compartment, rubber spatula, blender gasket, can opener and pizza cutter), 25% contained salmonella (the meat and vegetable compartments in the refrigerator, spatula, blender, gasket, refrigerator ice and water dispensers and the rubber seals on food storage containers), 10% contained listeria (refrigerator vegetable compartment and refrigerator door seal), while a whopping 100% contained mold and yeast.

"I think the biggest oversight that people make is they don't follow the manufacturer's instructions when it comes to cleaning," said [microbiologist and senior project manager at NSF Lisa] Yaka. "They just don't think these places can be dirty."

For example, she pointed out that many people may not realize they need to disassemble the entire blender, removing the gasket and the rubber seal before cleaning. That's where a lot of the bacteria was found.

This is a huge health risk, according to the NSF, because every year one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses "resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Death! Being lazy and stupid when it comes to cleaning could make you die. One interesting thing mentioned:

E. coli bacteria can spread through contaminated food and water, causing diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and other complications that can damage blood cells and kidneys.

So maybe it wasn't all that sex that caused your UTIs. Maybe you're not a dirty slut. Maybe you're just a dirty person. Feel better?

Where are germs hiding in your kitchen? Study finds surprising results [CBS News]

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