Consumers are warned of bacterial contamination in paper towels. Photo: iStock

The Hong Kong Consumer Council has warned that one in three kitchen paper towels tested contained excessive amounts of bacteria.

The Consumer Council tested 15 makes of kitchen towels and found five brands exceeded the safety limit for total bacterial count by anywhere from 20% to 300%, according to a press release.

The five problematic towels were manufactured by Select, Naxos, BESTbuy, First Choice and Freesia, and the Council has referred the matter to Customs officials, Sing Tao Daily reported.

If kitchen towels with a high bacterial content come in contact with cooked food, it is possible that the food may pose a health risk from bacterial contamination, and people with weaker immune systems should be wary of this possibility, according to the government consumer watchdog.

“Don’t think that they are 100% hygienically safe. After you have cooked food, if you want to use the paper towel or cleaning towel to wipe the food to make it [look] nicer when you give it to people, if the towel itself has got bacterial contamination, it is likely it will pass [bacteria] to the cooked food,” Professor Nora Tam, who chairs the watchdog’s research and testing committee said.

Manufacturers and suppliers are urged to inspect transportation and storage conditions closely to prevent damage to product packaging, which may result in excessive humidity and bacterial contamination.

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