Unwashed utensils can spread bacteria between fruit, vegetables: study

Griffin, GA – Do you clean knives and other utensils after using them on fruit and vegetables? New research from the University of Georgia shows that utensils can spread bacteria between different types of produce – which could lead to food poisoning.

As part of a study, researchers placed bacteria – such as E. coli and salmonella – on several types of vegetables and fruit and cut into it with a knife, then cut into different produce without cleaning the knife. Next, they grated produce to see how bacteria traveled.

The researchers found that bacteria spread from one fruit or vegetable to another, and pieces of contaminated produce stayed on the graters. In addition, certain produce spread bacteria in different amounts. For example, cutting tomatoes led to more contamination on the knife than cutting strawberries, researchers said.

Brushes and peelers also spread bacteria between produce, according to the study. Once bacteria are on food, they are not easy to remove, one researcher noted in a university press release.

Researchers stressed the importance of washing utensils after using them on a food item.

The study was published online July 7 in the journal Food Microbiology.