Safety information has, for many years, highlighted the concerns of bacteria spreading via utensils, like knives and forks, which have not been cleaned properly. Now, new research highlights a concern with spreading viruses.
Whilst virus transfer between hands and food is known to occur, there is little research, until a recent study, into the role of kitchen utensils used for food preparation in this cross-contamination.
For the study, the research brief indicates, the scientists looked at the transfer of the Hepatitis A virus and Norovirus between a range of fruit and vegetables and different kitchen knives or flat steel coarse graters. The researchers found that when using utensils if the food stuff was contaminated, this resulted in more than half of all knives and graters becoming contaminated after preparing the contaminated produce.
It should be noted, as FSA Alerts indicates, however, that the level of contamination observed differed with produce used and type of virus. For example, the smooth surfaces of a honeydew melon transferred more Norovirus to knives than the rougher surface of a cantaloupe.
The news about the easy spread of viruses comes as concerns about Norovirus are at their height. The leading cause of foodborne illness in the US is currently Norovirus, with produce and ready-to-eat foods being identified as the main food types responsible for outbreaks.
The research comes from Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, USA, and has been led by Qing Wang. The findings have been published in the journal Food and Environmental Virology.