You’ve probably heard horror stories about the germs lurking on your kitchen sponge, and maybe you’re a bit squeamish about touching the bin lid.
But your spice rack could be the quiet culprit for making you sick.
That’s according to a study commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
When it comes to cross-contamination, spice containers are the life and soul of the party.
While other surfaces showed evidence of contamination less than 20% of the time, spice containers were contaminated nearly half the time.
The study examined cross-contamination by asking participants to make a turkey burger patty and a salad.
Participants were not told researchers would be examining their food safety behaviour until after they had prepared the meal.
The turkey contained a “tracer organism” called MS2 so the researchers could track cross-contamination.
The researchers tested surfaces including knives, chopping boards, tap handles and sponges, and for all of them found no more than one-fifth tested positive for MS2.
But when they tested the spice containers, 48% were contaminated with MS2.
This came as a surprise even to the researchers.
Read more on Sky News:
Danger of tomato, cucumber and other vegetable rationing, NFU warns
Putin blames West for starting war in Ukraine
Kate Forbes says her faith means children outside marriage is ‘wrong’
Co-author Donald Schaffner, professor at Rutgers University’s department of food science, said most research into cross-contamination has looked at chopping boards and taps, neglecting other things touched during cooking such as spice jars and utensils.
Cross-contamination of spice jars has not been recorded before – but Prof Schaffner said this should be a reminder to home cooks to wipe them down after cooking.
The most unhygienic spots in the kitchen:
• Spice containers
• Cutting board
• Bin lid
The spot with the least cross-contamination:
• Tap handle