Where is the dirtiest place in the kitchen, where are the most germs?

To estimate the area with the most germs in the kitchen, the first thing that comes to mind is the handle of the refrigerator, the cutting board or the inside of the sink.

But a new study has shown that bacteria are more likely to be lurking in an unexpected spot. The answer is the spice drawer…

In a new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, researchers examined how people preparing turkey burgers contaminate or contaminate different surfaces in the kitchen.


According to the news in The Washington Post, researchers found that cross-contamination of spice jars used in cooking was by far the highest point.

Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria and viruses are transferred from one contaminated surface to another uncontaminated surface.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Food Protection, states that although people have heard of the importance of cleaning cutting boards, they may not have thought about spice jars.

“Consumers may not consider cleaning spice containers after cooking because jars are not considered to be a high risk for cross-contamination,” the study says.


In the study, the researchers had 371 people prepare seasoned turkey burgers and salads infused with harmless bacteria in different styles of cuisine.

After the dishes were prepared, the scientists collected swab samples from 12 surfaces, including utensils and countertops.

Spice jars outperformed other surfaces by 48 percent. Cutting boards were the second most contaminated object, followed by bin lids. Tap handles were the least contaminated objects, according to the study.

Regarding the result, it was said, “It may be due to the fact that the spices are close to the area where the turkey meatballs are made, the hands are not washed during the seasoning of the meatballs, and the spice containers are not cleaned after use.”

Donald Schaffner, a professor in the Department of Food Science at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, who led the study, said the results surprised even the food safety experts who conducted the study.

“We’ve never seen evidence of contamination of spice containers before,” Schaffner told Food Safety News.


So, what should home cooks make out of this study? Benjamin Chapman, chair of the Department of Agriculture and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University and a senior author of the study, said he didn’t think people should immediately flood spice racks with bleach.

However, he stated that more hands should be washed not only before and after, but also during the food preparation process and gave the following message:

“For example, when you’re done with turkey meatballs, you need to wash your hands before picking up the spice jar.”

Chapman stated that spices are a hidden potential microbe magnet.