July 21, 2018

The Best Way To Clean Up After Food Poisoning Strikes

What’s the best way to clean up after someone in your household gets sick from food poisoning? A two-step method of wiping down surfaces with soap and then a bleach solution is best, according to a new a new study published in the November issue of the Journal of Applied  and Environmental Microbiology.

Hand WashingOne way people become sick during foodborne illness outbreaks is from secondary spread, meaning  germs from someone who is sick make other people sick.  Unseen germs from diarrhea or vomit can contaminate surfaces in the bathroom which pose a risk for others who use the same facilites.

Researchers Era Tuladhar, Wilma C. Hazeleger, Marion Koopmans, Marcel H. Zwietering, Rijkelt R. Beumer, and Erwin Duizer contaminated surfaces with a variety of bacteria including Salmonella and Norovirus and tested a variety of cleaning methods. Norovirus is highly contagious and causes about 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  It’s the most  common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the U.S.  Salmonella is another common foodborne illness. There are about 42,000 confirmed cases of Salmonella poisoning in the U.S. every year, but officials estimate the total number of those sickened by the pathogen each year is actual 30 times higher than that.

With millions of people suffering from a foodborne illness each year,  good cleaning technique could prevent a lot of secondary spread. To conduct their research the scientists  “used data on infectious doses and transfer efficiencies to estimate a target level to which the residual contamination should be reduced and found that a single wipe with liquid soap followed by a wipe with 250-ppm free chlorine solution was sufficient to reduce the residual contamination to below the target level for most of the pathogens tested,” according to the study’s abstract.

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