How resistant is your countertop to bacteria?

Are you concerned about bacterial contamination of your kitchen countertop? With my toddler son, I know I certainly am.

Today, it is understood that many food items that we purchase are highly contaminated with pathogenic micro-organisms, and it is necessary for the home cook to make these foods safe. Often, the first step in food preparation is cutting and manipulating the food to get it ready. It is essential that the countertop be cleaned after raw food has touched the surface. Otherwise, there can be cross-contamination, and the people eating the food prepared on the cross-contaminated surface can become ill.
An important study was carried out by the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, a St. Paul Minnesota USA on countertop cleanliness. The institute develops educational materials, carries out research, provides data and reports for those working in the retail food industry The purpose of this particular study was to determine the cleanability of six of the most commonly used countertop surfaces: Laminate, Wood, Tile, Concrete, Stainless Steel and Granite.

The study measured the bacteria resistance capacity of six common countertop materials. Each surface was contaminated with E-coli (nearly 2 billion of the micro organisms), washed and rinsed with soap and water and then sanitized with a vinegar-and-water solution.

With just washing and rinsing, the retention of E.coli from most retained to most removed is as follows:
  1. Laminate
  2. Wood
  3. Ceramic Tile
  4. Concrete
  5. Stainless Steel
  6. Granite
Laminate, washing and rinsing reduced the bacterial counts by about 285 to 1. When the vinegar was applied, the overall reduction was increased to about 500,000 to 1.

Wood, washing and rinsing reduced the bacterial counts by about 500 to 1. When the vinegar was applied, the overall reduction was increased to about 2,000 to 1.

Ceramic Tile, washing and rinsing reduced the bacterial counts by about 900 to 1. When the vinegar was applied, the overall reduction was increased to about 233,000 to 1.

Concrete, washing and rinsing reduced the bacterial counts by about 2,400 to 1. When the vinegar was applied, the overall reduction was increased to about 30,600 to 1.

Stainless Steel, washing and rinsing reduced the bacterial counts by about 4,000 to 1. When the vinegar was applied, the overall reduction was increased to about 230,000,000 to 1.

Granite, washing and rinsing reduced the bacterial counts by about 36,000 to 1. When the vinegar was applied, the overall reduction was increased to about 80,000,000 to 1.

With washing, rinsing and sanitizing, the retention of E.coli from most retained to most removed is as follows:
  1. Wood
  2. Concrete
  3. Ceramic Tile
  4. Laminate
  5. Granite
  6. Stainless Steel


The experiment has shown that every countertop will have a different cleanability. A point to note was the experiment was done with new samples. When some of these samples become worn, the reduction will probably not be as significant, except for stainless steel, which should change the least.

While granite showed the greatest reduction in washing, overall, after the vinegar sanitizing, the stainless steel had the greatest reduction.

2 comments:

Tony said...

you must be regularly clean up and roughly dusting of granite worktops. Do not use too much cleaner or soap, as sometimes it may leave a film and cause some irregular lines on worktops.

Ben said...

I'm using a granite top in my current home. Strong cleaners does bleach the black galaxy and leaves a grayish "nebular" around the sink and especially near the washing machine where the washing detergents occasionally spill on.

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