Campus News

Associate professor discusses how kitchen utensils can spread bacteria

Marilyn Erickson, associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Food Safety and the food science and technology department, spoke about recent research into food safety in the kitchen with MedicineNet.

Erickson found that kitchen utensils like knives and graters can spread bacteria throughout the kitchen and between multiple types of produce. They found that different produce can also contaminate knives and utensils to varying degrees.

“For items like tomatoes, we tended to have a higher contamination of the knives than when we cut strawberries,” she said. They aren’t sure what makes some foods easier to contaminate than others.

“We don’t have a specific answer as to why there are differences between the different produce groups. But we do know that once a pathogen gets on the food, it’s difficult to remove,” said Erickson.

She said that even this preliminary research can make your kitchen a much safer place.

“Just knowing that utensils may lead to cross-contamination is important,” she said. “With that knowledge, consumers are then more likely to make sure they wash them in between uses.”