Here’s another reminder to always wash your hands — and cutting boards — thoroughly after handling raw poultry.
A new study in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology shows the presence of multi-drug resistant E. coli on a small percentage of cutting boards collected from hospitals and households and about half of gloves used in hospital kitchens, all of which were used to handle poultry.
For the study, researchers from University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, examined 154 cutting boards from the University Hospital and 144 cutting boards from private homes after they were used in the preparation of meat (and before being cleaned), including poultry, beef and veal, pork, fish and lamb. Sixty-four of the 154 cutting boards from the hospital were used to prepare poultry, while 62 of the 144 cutting boards from the private homes were used to prepare poultry. They also examined 20 gloves that were used by hospital kitchen employees after being used to handle poultry.
The researchers tested all the cutting boards and gloves for E. coli bacteria that produce extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL-producing E. coli), which is multi-drug resistant.
None of the cutting boards used to handle non-poultry meats tested positive for ESBL-producing E. coli, but 6.5 percent of the hospital cutting boards used to prepare poultry and 3.5 percent of the home cutting boards used to prepare poultry tested positive for the bacteria. In addition, half of the gloves examined in the study tested positive for ESBL-producing E. coli.
The presence of ESBL-producing bacteria did not seem to be linked with the country of origin of the meat.
“Our study provides evidence that kitchen equipment and hands can easily become contaminated with ESBL-producing E. coli after processing of raw poultry, revealing an important potential source for ongoing transmission in both hospital kitchens and private household settings,” the researchers wrote in the study. “These findings emphasize hand hygiene not only after handling raw poultry but also after contact with cutting boards used for poultry preparation.”
Poultry is not the only source of bacteria that can cause food poisoning; a recent study from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers showed that leafy greens and spinach are actually the biggest source of food poisoning. (So make sure to wash cutting boards after using them to prepare produce, too!)