So I missed it, for reasons that ought to be obvious, but apparently yesterday the Daily Express advised its readers – in its splash?! – that MICROWAVE ovens can be used to combat deadly food poisoning bugs by sterilising kitchen cloths, scientists have claimed.. (Popup warning: use a popup blocker on that site.)
Experiments show that zapping sponges, cloths and plastic scouring pads for just two minutes in a microwave can kill 99 per cent of the germs contained in them.
BBC News 24, never knowingly replete with stories, repeated it. And some people tried it.
Result: Firefighters Warn Against Microwaving Sponges And Clothes (from firefighting.com): Shropshire Fire Service said that they had attended a fire that occurred, when a person attempted to sterilize a dishcloth in a microwave oven. (Check out the ads on that site too. “Single firefighters.” Female single firefighters? Ur.)
So there are two things which are stupid about this story.
1) Doing something because the paper said it would work. What red-tops, especially the terminally malnourished Express, may tell you is almost certainly the opposite of the truth.
2) Excuse me, but how many deaths are there each year in the UK due to slightly mangy cloths? Even how many cases of food poisoning? This is precisely the sort of scare story I detest. Surely there are more case of food poisoning from things like salmonella in eggs, undercooked chicken and so on. The Health Protection Agency has 70,000-odd cases recorded – on a downward slope – but how many deaths from bacterially-infected towels?
So: people are burning down their houses – well, making a start on their kitchens – because of a pointless story about a piece of research into something that’s unnecessary.
Oh yeah, but it’s nice that it’s the Express doing it to its readers. Like there weren’t few enough of them already.