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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MICROBIAL ECOLOGY AND SAFETY OF FRESH ON-FARM ORGANICALLY GROWN PRODUCE Title: Effective household disinfection methods of kitchen sponges

Authors
item Sharma, Manan
item Roberts, Cheryl
item Eastridge, Janet

Submitted to: Food Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 30, 2008
Publication Date: July 15, 2008
Citation: Sharma, M., Mudd, C.L., Eastridge, J.S. 2008. Effective household disinfection methods of kitchen sponges. Food Control. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2008.05.020

Interpretive Summary: Household kitchen sponges have been shown to accumulate microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness and decrease shelf-life of foods. Several household disinfecting treatments to kill bacteria, yeasts and molds on kitchen sponges were evaluated. Sponges were soaked in 10 percent bleach for 3 min, lemon juice (pH 2.9) or deionized water for 1 min; placed in a microwave oven for 1 min; or placed in a dishwasher operating with a drying cycle. Microwaved sponges had significantly lower total bacterial counts than those that were dishwashed. Sponges that were placed in a dishwasher or microwave oven had significantly lower total bacterial counts than those immersed in any chemical treatment or that were untreated. Counts of yeasts and molds recovered from sponges placed in a microwave oven or dishwasher were significantly lower than those recovered from sponges immersed in chemical treatments. Populations of yeasts and molds on sponges that were soaked in water were significantly higher than those on sponges exposed to all other treatments. Our study shows that microwave treatment and dishwashing may kill foodborne pathogens in a household kitchen environment. Placing sponges in dishwashers and microwave ovens for disinfection may improve household kitchen hygiene and sanitation practices to limit food spoilage and foodborne illness in homes.

Technical Abstract: Several household disinfecting treatments to kill bacteria, yeasts and molds on kitchen sponges were evaluated. Sponges were soaked in 10 percent bleach for 3 min, lemon juice (pH 2.9) or deionized water for 1 min; placed in a microwave oven for 1 min; or placed in a dishwasher operating with a drying cycle. Microwaving and dishwashing treatments significantly lowered (P<0.05) aerobic bacterial counts (<0.4 log and 1.6 log CFU/sponge, respectively) more than those immersed in any chemical treatment or that were untreated (7.5 CFU/sponge). Counts of yeasts and molds recovered from sponges receiving microwave (<0.4 log CFU/sponge) or dishwashing (0.4 log CFU/sponge) treatments were significantly lower than those recovered from sponges immersed in chemical treatments. Our study shows that microwave treatment and dishwashing can kill foodborne pathogens in a household kitchen sponges.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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