9.5.07

5 Second Opinon

What to do...

The New York Times takes a look at a study completed by Clemson University on the 5-second rule. This study was more in depth than a a similar study done in 2003 by Jillian Clarke (which won a 2004 Ig Noble award), replacing gummi bears and cookies with slices of bologna and bread.

In case you live in a bubble, here is the Wikipedia definition of the the 5-second rule: The rule applies to foods that have fallen to the ground. Normally, customary rules of hygiene dictate that food that has fallen to the ground should be discarded, in order to prevent ingestion of disease-causing agents acquired from the dirty surface. The rule states that if the food is picked up within five seconds, it can still be eaten.

Prof. Paul L. Dawson and his colleagues at Clemson measured how long bacteria could survive on various surfaces, and later placed test food slices onto the surfaces for varying lengths of time, and measured how many live bacteria were transferred to the food. Their bacterium of choice was salmonella; the test surfaces were tile, wood flooring and nylon carpet; and the test foods were slices of bread and bologna.

The results: 24 hours after applying salmonella broth in doses of several million bacteria per square centimeter, "thousands of bacteria per square centimeter had survived on the tile and wood, and tens of thousands on the carpet. Hundreds of salmonella were still alive after 28 days. "On surfaces that had been contaminated eight hours earlier, slices of bologna and bread left for five seconds took up from 150 to 8,000 bacteria. Left for a full minute, slices collected about 10 times more than that from the tile and carpet, though a lower number from the wood."

Mmm... floor cookie...

It appears that the 5-second rule is wrong. Quick retrieval does help limit contamination, but contamination still will occur. Now, do I suggest that you should not eat any food from the floor, as many experts have? No. I say the 5-second rule should be extended to 30 minutes. Ingesting bacteria is natural and good.

From George Carlin's You are all Diseased special:
"What do you think you have an immune system for? It's for killing germs. But it needs practice. It needs germs to practice on... If you kill all the germs around you, and live a completely sterile life, then when germs do come along, you're not going to be prepared. And never mind ordinary germs, what are you going to do when some super virus comes along and turns your vital organs into liquid shit? I'll tell you what you're going to do, you're going to get sick, you're going to die, and you're going to deserve it, 'cause you're fuckin' weak and you've got a fuckin' weak immune system."

Our society has become germ phobic. We try to raise our children in sanitized environments. You can now buy sprays to disinfect your air. Guess what? Rates of asthma and allergies are rising. Anti-biotic resistant "super strains" of diseases are spreading. Thousands are getting sick from e. coli in their food. Our immune systems are not being trained to do what they are supposed to do. If you're worried about getting sick, improve your nutrition. Or you could just live in a plastic bubble, where you only have to worry about Trivial Pursuit typos.

So there you have it. My healthcare plan: eat food off of the floor.

Got to get those last crumbs...

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