People naturally attempt to justify their actions, whether or not they’re confident that their motivations were 100% correct. One excuse that is a commonly held belief is the extent to which food gets dirty after being dropped onto different surfaces.
According to redbrick.com, researchers at Aston University recently found that an estimated 87% of people would or have previously eaten food that had been dropped on the floor.
Unfortunately, a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology describes how scientists put one of the most common myths surrounding the cleanliness of dropped food to the test: the infamous five-second rule.
Their experiment involved recreating “dirty” surface conditions using Salmonella typhimurium. This hazardous bacteria can cause food poisoning that can last up to seven days.
The scientists contaminated a variety of surfaces, including wood flooring, tiles, and carpet. After the initial contamination, surfaces were left to incubate for different amounts of time. They would then place pieces of balogna sausage and bread on each surface for either five, 30, or 60 seconds.
What they found was that the type of surface, the time between contamination and the addition of food, and in some cases the amount of contact time, all had an effect on the amount of bacteria transferred to the food. While longer contact times had only a few instances of transferring more bacteria, in every case, large numbers of bacteria were always transferred immediately to the dropped food.
All-in-all, the five-second rule is indeed a myth: bacteria can live after four weeks on a carpet. Through “microbial adhesion” on carpets, germs such as Salmonella typhimurium, Campylobacter, and Salmonella enteritis, a nasty bacterium that causes horrible diarrhea and vomiting, all transfer to food immediately upon contact.
While these results may make some people feel uneasy, more and more effective preventative methods of sanitizing the surfaces of a house are always being developed.
For instance, the Malibu Times reports that the home cleaning company Environmental Carpet and Air Care is using new methods of more safe cleaning processes.
Their cleaning products consist of biodegradable and nontoxic components made from renewable resources to clean carpets and upholstery. Not only is this a more environmentally friendly method for cleaning, but it is also designed to be safe for children and pets.
Environmental Carpet Care says that the biggest mistake most people make is to not vacuum often enough, especially in high traffic areas.
“It takes an average of 10 steps to scrub the bottom of your feet,” said Shen Schulz, president and CEO of Environmental Carpet and Air Care. “High traffic areas need to be cleaned every three to four months, while the rest of the house should be cleaned every nine to 12 months. The dust and allergens need to be removed.”
Their truck-mounted systems use high pressure, high-steam techniques to sanitize carpets. These systems can reach temperatures up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively kill any residing bacteria.