Written by: Wallace Merriman

Do you pick up dropped food?
Posted on:Mar 21, 2011
The Health Advocate
In a recent study, researchers placed salmonella on wood, tile, and carpeting, and dropped a slice of bologna on the surfaces for 5, 30, or 60 seconds. With both wood and tile, more than 99 percent of the bacteria was transferred “nearly immediately.” Carpet transferred a smaller number of bacteria, still enough to cause serious illness.
So unless you can pick up the dropped food faster than “nearly immediately,” you might as well not pick it up at all.

I have a problem with that, because I hate to waste food. Why throw out a perfectly good strawberry or potato chip or malted milk ball solely because it fell on the floor? A few weeks ago, I dropped a Creamsicle® on the kitchen floor. It broke in two. I picked it up. Good as new. Tasted great, as an artificially sweetened iced confectionery treat should.

Lest you think anything goes, I have standards. I don’t worry too much about germs if food’s dropped in my kitchen. Or the floor of my cube. Or my grandmother’s house. (Her garage is more sterile than an operating room.) There are certain no-nos, including airports, convenient stores, bathrooms, convenient store bathrooms (can you imagine?), and my car mats. Also, if something’s stuck to it that won’t wash off, then, like a horse with a broken leg, I have to put it down.

Last summer, I was grilling hot dogs for a family gathering. As I was turning the hot dogs, I dropped one on the deck. No one was looking, so I picked up the dog, made sure nothing foreign was stuck to it, and set it back on the grill.

At least I thought no one was looking. Turns out my 6-year-old nephew saw it, and told the entire gathering of 20 people that “Uncle Nick Nick dwopped a hot dog.” My defense was that I knew which dog I dropped and that I planned to eat it myself. Truth is, all hot dogs look alike, and I lost track of it. But somebody ate it. Perhaps the 6-year-old tattletale.