Keeping your kitchen clean is paramount to wind up not getting your family sick due to cross-contamination. Most of us know that. Yet, there's something in your kitchen that we use regularly that might be contaminated and there's a good chance you haven't thought to clean or disinfect it.

A new study published in the Journal of Food Production found a surprising place where things like salmonella or E. coli might be hanging out. I'm talking about your spice containers. Surprising, right?

Researchers conducted a study that asked research participants to prepare a meal of turkey burgers along with a ready-to-eat lettuce salad. Researchers used something called bacteriophage MS2 as a tracer organism to see what kitchen surfaces would come back contaminated after the meal was cooked.

The good news, people are pretty conscious that they need to be careful handling raw meat, and that meat needs to be cooked to a certain temperature to kill off bacteria that can make us sick. The research shows, "For most surfaces, positivity did not exceed 20%, with the exception of spice containers, for which 48% of the samples showed evidence of MS2 cross-contamination."

The cross-contamination of spice containers seemed to surprise researchers, and how much more cross-contamination they contained vs. other surfaces seems to lead them to think it could be a problem.

I never really put that much thought into it. Yet, when I think back to my own experiences cooking turkey burgers or hamburgers I can understand how it happens. You've got the burgers on a plate ready to throw on the grill, or they're on the Foreman and you reach for the salt, pepper, or some type of seasoning without washing your hands of the raw burger you just touched.

So the upshot of this is you probably should wipe down your spices before you use them next, and every time you clean up and disinfect your kitchen.

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Gallery Credit: Joni Sweet

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