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The zero-second rule

May
2

Every few years or so, someone checks out the veracity of the three-second rule (or the two-second rule or the five-second rule or however many seconds it is that you think it’s OK for food to sit on the floor before you pick it up and blow the germs off it), and the answer is always the same:

Myth!

The latest debunking comes all the way from Down Under, where a listing of the Top Five Food Safety Myths ranks the three-second rule at the top.

tjndc5-5bhx7mjhm7kqh2ym6jw_original-2.jpgEven a nanosecond is enough for food to have a brief and fruitful affair with myriad bacteria that gets traipsed over the kitchen floor by footwear that has trodden upon footpaths, public toilet floors, train-carriage aisles and office carpet squares. The worst thing to do, says Lydia Buchtmann, of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), is to pick up food from the floor and slip it into something that will not be cooked, such as a salad or a dessert: “The bugs picked up can grow to dangerous levels very quickly and give you food poisoning.”

Of course, as the author of this feature points out, chocolate, truffles and other treats (particularly expensive ones) are exempt from the rule.

Hahahahaha.

Not really, but we have the very good fortune of living with my mother-in-law, who is VERY clean and makes sure the floors are spotless. And we don’t wear our shoes past the front door, so it’s just our stinky feet and socks on the floors.

OK, not saying that our feet are necessarily perfectly clean at all times (but maybe they are….) but my mother-in-law is really clean.

Besides, I truly believe a little dirt never hurt anyone. Didn’t these people ever eat mud pies as children?

Just quickly, these are the other four top food myths:
• Seafood is dodgy (just don’t leave raw seafood out of the fridge for hours; it’s “no more likely to cause food poisoning than other meats…”)
• It’s OK to leave cooked rice/pasta out of the fridge (bacteria can germinate on any cooked food, and “[r]eheating or lightly cooking the food will not destroy this toxin. Cooked food should not be stored in the refrigerator for more than two to three days.)
• Dairy products cause phlegm (not supported by scientific evidence, according to “a comprehensive review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. After analysing available scientific research on the topic, the authors concluded that milk intake was not associated with nose symptoms, cough or congestion.”)
• Mould on cheese and jam is not dangerous (if it’s not “supposed” to be moldy – think Roquefort or gorgonzola or the like – it’s not supposed to be moldy)

2006 Journal News photo by Dave Kennedy; it’s not my family. And I have no evidence that this family eats food that’s fallen on the floor. But they’re an awfully cute bunch, aren’t they?

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2008 at 5:31 pm by Amy Vernon. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: 2-second rule, cleanliness, food safety, myths

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About this blog
You make it, they eat it, right?

As most parents soon discover, feeding a family is rarely that easy, whether its nursing a fussy newborn or trying to get a hot meal into a squirming toddler (or attempting both at the same time.) And that's not even the days when work runs late, the main course burns, or your adventurous little sushi eater announces from now on she will only eat food that is pink.

As parents ourselves, we've been there, done that, even learned a few tricks along the way. And we're pretty sure so have you. Maybe together we can make eating together as a family -- gulp! -- fun again.

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!

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About the authors
Hema Easley Hema Easley has been a reporter for The Journal News since July 2002, first covering municipal government and then nonprofit agencies, women's issues and the South Asian and Muslim community in the Lower Hudson Valley. In her previous job, Hema was a correspondent for the Associated Press in South Asia. She lives with her husband and two sons in Orange County.
KatieKatie Ryan O'Connor, a Journal News editor and 35-year-old mother of three, never quite appreciated the work that went into feeding kids until she had to do it herself as a mother. If she had a food-and-kids philosophy it would be something like this: try your best to offer as much healthy food as possible, but sometimes fruits just have to be counted as vegetables and there are far worse things than chicken and spaghetti. Again.
TraceyTracey Princiotta, a 37-year-old mother of one, loves to cook, bake and eat, and is relieved that her son appears to be equally willing to chow down -- even if it's baby food and formula right now. Despite her husband's intense aversion to vegetables, she has high hopes of nurturing a true chowhound who will try everything at least once. And if all else fails, she's not above sneaking veggies into other foods.
Marcela Rojas Marcela Rojas has been a municipal reporter with The Journal News since January 2003. She is a native of Putnam County and grew up eating Peruvian food. She didn't realize until she was 13 that rice did not come with everyone's meal. After several years of living in Los Angeles -- where she grew a fondness for Thai food -- she returned to Putnam County where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Zyla (rhymes with Lilah) just turned 1 in March and, so far (her mother is pleased to note), loves to eat everything.
Swapna Venugopal Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, a Journal News reporter, started her career as a journalist in 1999 after graduating with a master's degree from New York University. Before joining the paper in 2006, Swapna worked as a municipal reporter for the Home News Tribune in New Jersey, and took a baby sabbatical to care for her two children, now ages 7 and 5. She has currently outsourced feeding her children and husband to her mother, who is visiting from India. Her friend and colleague Katie O'Connor, informs Swapna that she wouldn't mind being fed Indian food by her mother, too.
Randi Weiner Randi Weiner has been a reporter with The Journal News since 1989, having covered police, government and schools in Westchester and in Rockland. An Ohio native and 1976 graduate of Bowling Green State University, she worked for daily newspapers in Ohio and Michigan before moving east. She has tended bar and danced in a beledi troup and sat on the boards of two community theaters. She plays mandolin with the Shamrogues, Connecticuts largest Irish band. Randi lives in Connecticut with her husband and has three children.

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