Wiping out Food Poisoning

Antibacterial wipe use may prevent foodborne bacterial contamination Campylobacter jejuni after preparing chicken

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Maybe you cooked your chicken thoroughly — but is there a chance some of the raw juice splattered on the counter? If so, bacteria could still cause illness, but an easy extra step may help keep you healthy.

A new study found that using antibacterial wipes after preparing raw chicken could prevent nearly all infections from one foodborne bacteria, Campylobacter.

"There is growing awareness of the foodborne illness transmission from household exposures and the importance of cross-contamination," explained the authors of this new study, led by Gerardo U. Lopez, PhD, of the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Dr. Lopez and team explained that this cross-contamination can occur via surfaces like counters and cutting boards after preparing foods like raw chicken.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Campylobacter can cause diarrhea, stomach pain and fever that start several days after exposure. Though symptoms usually last about a week, they can on occasion be more severe and long-lasting in people with immune system problems.

"It only takes a very few Campylobacter organisms (fewer than 500) to make a person sick," according to the CDC. "Even one drop of juice from raw chicken meat can have enough Campylobacter in it to infect a person!"

Dr. Lopez and team aimed to explore exposure to a common strain of these bacteria, Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), in the home during the preparation of chicken fillets.

To do so, these researchers used a computer model that looked at factors like how often raw chicken purchased at the store may contain these bacteria and the chance of the contaminated juice spilling and the preparer later being exposed.

When Dr. Lopez and team factored disinfectant antibacterial wipe use into the model, they reduced the yearly estimated risk of infection by 99.2 percent. The use of these wipes took the risk of C. jejuni infections down from 2 out of 10 instances to 2 out of 1,000 instances.

"We found that it's not just the physical removal of bacteria by the wipe that helps — the antibacterial solution left behind on the counter surface continues to disinfect over the next few minutes," Dr. Lopez said in a press release.

Dr. Lopez added, "It's also important that consumers clean up with a wipe straight after preparing poultry. If drips and splatters from the meat remain, bacteria can transfer to other foods from dirty surfaces and utensils. If the area is allowed to dry, the bacteria can sometimes stick to the work surface making it even harder to get clean, later."

This study was published online May 1 in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Several groups funded this research, such as the US Department of Homeland Security and the Clorox Company. Dr. Lopez and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

At the time of publication, this study had undergone peer review but had not been through the complete copy editing and proofreading process, which may lead to future changes.

Review Date: 
May 4, 2015
Last Updated:
May 11, 2015