kitchen food preparationBarbara Anderson of the Fresno Bee reports that consumers worried about contaminated spinach and lettuce from California’s Salinas Valley may have a threat closer to home: bacteria breeding in their kitchen sink.

We live in a germ-filled world. Millions of microbes live in kitchens, setting up house on kitchen counters, cutting boards, stove tops and tabletops.

More than 250 different food-borne diseases have been identified, and E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter are only three of the most common bacteria that cause infections.

As state and federal food investigators continue to comb fields in California for clues to the E. coli outbreak, health experts say people play a role in food safety.

Outbreaks of food poisoning that are linked to a single food product get the public’s attention, but bacteria hitch rides into kitchens every day on a variety of sources, including the dirty hands of food shoppers.