Amidst the recent e-coli deaths in Europe traced to a German sprout farm, researchers discussed its decreasing incidence here in the US, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304665904576383582242952932.html?KEYWORDS=food+illness+and+the+kitchen#articleTabs%3Darticle.
While e-coli has been cut in half over the past 15 years, researchers were puzzled that salmonella did not follow suit. The researchers cited a slight dip in the percentage of 1,000 people who reported, in an on-line survey, washing their hands after handling food but it seems to me a more obvious answer lies at the surface, literally.
As granite, marble, and other porous counter tops have become the rage of new and renovated kitchens, homeowners are swapping style for sanitation. These surfaces cannot be cleaned with bleach, the leading household disinfectant. In shopping for a bathroom sink recently, I was advised by two granite and marble dealers to clean the surface with a solution of 30% liquid hand soap to 70% water to protect the finish. I can’t recall any sign in any restaurant bathroom that advises “All employees must wash their hands with a solution of 30% soap to 70% water” so can’t say I trust this remedy. My Clorox spray bottle sits at the ready of my Corian kitchen counter top, which I selected over 10 years ago, precisely so I could spray at my heart’s content. At the time, my inner germaphobe had not yet developed nor had e-coli, salmonella, listeria monocytogenes or other scary terms entered my vocabulary. I just sought the quickest means to hide what a messy and lousy cook I am. My friend’s complain that their stylish counter tops require a maintenance routine they don’t always perform.
A short time ago, a widely publicized study revealed that the kitchen sink contains more germs than a toilet. If that is the case, then it is logical that counter tops can be equally as toxic if not fully disinfected. While no tax payer NIH funding supports this conclusion, I stand by my quasi-scientific theory that the prevalence of these materials, and the failure to diligently disinfect them, has a direct relationship to food preparation, and food borne illness and is an environmental factor that should not be ignored.