In a 2022 study published in the Journal of Food Protection, more than 370 participants in North Carolina were tasked with making ground turkey patties and a ready-to-eat vegetable salad in a test kitchen. The raw turkey meat had been injected with a virus known as MS2, which poses no threat to humans (via Rutgers Today). Out of two groups, only one was given a food safety lesson prior to cooking.
The researchers examined participant food preparation behaviors and tested various kitchen items for levels of cross-contamination. Such items included soap dispensers, trash can lids, faucet handles, counters, spice containers, and more. The study findings revealed that prior food safety education did not influence levels of cross-contamination. For most surfaces, contamination levels were found on no more than 20% of samples. However, this was not the case for spice containers. Rather, MS2 cross-contamination was detected in 48% of the samples and was found to have the highest viral concentrations.
“Our research shows that any spice container you touch when you’re preparing raw meat might get cross-contaminated,” study co-author Donald Schaffner told Rutgers Today. “You’ll want to be conscious of that during or after meal preparation.”