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March 2, 2011 7:06 AM   Subscribe

bites "is a unique comprehensive resource for all those with a personal or professional interest in food safety. Dr. [Doug] Powell of Kansas State University, and associates, search out credible, current, evidence-based information on food safety and make it accessible to domestic and international audiences through multiple media. Sources of food safety information include government regulatory agencies, international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), peer-reviewed scientific publications, academia, recognized experts in the field and other sources as appropriate." (Description from website.) The folks responsible for bites also run the more entertainingly named barfblog.
posted by cog_nate (10 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the barfblog carpet transfers less bacteria to dropped food than tile or wood. I would never have guessed.
posted by samhyland at 7:19 AM on March 2, 2011


In a study published in 2006 in The Journal of Applied Microbiology, Clemson University researchers tested salmonella placed on wood, tile or carpet, and dropped bologna on the surfaces for 5, 30 or 60 seconds. With both wood and tile, more than 99 percent of the bacteria were transferred nearly immediately, and there was no difference by the time of contact. Carpet transferred a smaller number of bacteria, again with no difference by contact time. The amount transferred decreased over hours, but there were still thousands of the bacteria per square centimeter on the surfaces after 24 hours, and hundreds survived on the surfaces for as long as four weeks.

So what I'm getting from this is that the "ten-second rule" should actually be the "four week rule"
posted by Greg Nog at 7:35 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This site will wipe out half of AskMe's traffic overnight.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eating dropped food poses a risk for ingestion of bacteria

Some of that bacteria is good stuff.

Doesn't the state of the house/carpet/tile matter much more than the surface? If you're walking around your house in dogshit-smeared boots, then yeah, zero-second rule. (For small kids, a zero-second rule is generally good policy for a jillion reasons.)

But in some of my friends' immaculate homes, I would literally eat a meal off the floor.

Also, WTF does this have to do with food? Weird site. Comes off as bit SEOy.

Also, this might be a good place to clear up confusion/urban legend about wood handled knives.

Clearly, they are illegal to use in for commercial food preparation in some places in the U.S. (I think), because wood is porous and can hold bacteria.

Now my friend, a chef, once told me that wood-handled knives are fine as long as you wash them with hot water and no soap. He said the natural bacteria in the wood kills most of the harmful germs, and that soap kills that natural bacteria.

Can anyone informed confirm/deny? ... Bueller?
posted by mrgrimm at 7:48 AM on March 2, 2011


I used to have an iron stomach and never, ever got food poisoning, until I got pregnant and then got horrific food poisoning twice in a month. Leading me to look up listeria, of course, which kills you, kills your baby, kills you again, and then goes and finds another baby to kill just for fun. It's EVERYWHERE.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:27 AM on March 2, 2011


Not that I've made a formal investigation into it, but from what I understand wood, because it's porous, tends to draw bacteria down into its pores where it's isolated and eventually dies, whereas non-porous plastic can be more quickly and easily disinfected with hot water and soap (or in the dishwasher, except that practice isn't good for knife blades). See more info here.

My (again, non-official) impression is that wood is illegal in commercial food-prep because the extra bit of care that wood requires to be "sufficiently clean" is harder to maintain in those environments. In the home, I don't think it matters much as long as you exercise reasonable cleanliness and take proper care of your wooden implements. I don't know about the no-soap thing; I don't think your chef friend is correct about wood's "natural bacteria" - see the above explanation - but soap will tend to remove the natural oils of the wood and exacerbate drying and cracking/warping. I've always washed my wooden kitchen implements with soap and water, then when they've dried off I rubbed a bit of olive oil into any dry-looking pieces and let it soak in. Same with my cutting board - a good hot soapy scrub, let dry, then rub in some food-grade mineral oil to keep it from drying out. I've had this stuff for years, they still look fine, and I'm not getting sick from my own cooking, so...anecdata....
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the response, Greg. Didn't mean to derail ...

Leading me to look up listeria, of course, which kills you, kills your baby, kills you again, and then goes and finds another baby to kill just for fun. It's EVERYWHERE.

Funny. I was just talking to my (pregnant) wife about why she shouldn't eat soft cheese and she said that listeria was a scam to scare pregnant women. I will carry your warning forward (2,500 americans/year get listeriosis.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on March 2, 2011


There was a big ol' recall of soft Mexican cheese here in Brooklyn due to listeria (and I used to eat soft Mexican cheese quite a bit earlier in my pregnancy).

If you look at the actual recalls and the frequency with which listeria-laden foods are recalled--things like broccoli and other random foods you'd never expect--it will freak you out. Food safety in this country is pathetic.

We really should be able to eat soft cheeses and lunchmeat without worrying about this kind of bullshit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:51 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good point. If you actually look into how much resources the FDA commits (or doesn't) to food safety, it's terrifying.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:00 PM on March 2, 2011


mrgrimm: Tea Tree Oil has antiseptic properties, and is recommended for cleaning cutting boards and wooden knife handles.
In commercial kitchens, plastic or culinary-grade silicone handles are preferred, as they can withstand pressure rinsing in a commercial dishwasher, and are less likely to splinter or trap contaminants when chipped.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:21 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


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