I’m a Doctor. If I Drop Food on the Kitchen Floor, I Still Eat It

❝ You may have read or heard about the study debunking the five-second rule. It said that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.

Our continued focus on this threat has long baffled me. Why are we so worried about the floor? So many other things are more dangerous than that.

❝ There’s no magic period of time that prevents transmission. But even though I know bacteria can accumulate in less than five seconds, I will still eat food that has fallen on my kitchen floor. Why? Because my kitchen floor isn’t really that dirty.

❝ Our metric shouldn’t be whether there are more than zero bacteria on the floor. It should be how many bacteria are on the floor compared with other household surfaces. And in that respect, there are so many places in your house that pose more of a concern than the floor.

❝ Perhaps no one in the United States has spent more time investigating the occurrence of bacteria on public surfaces than Charles Gerba. He’s a professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, and he has published many papers on the subject.

In 1998, he and his colleagues investigated how well cleaning products could reduce coliform bacteria counts on household surfaces. As part of that research, they measured various locations in the house before any cleaning.

They found that the kitchen floor was likely to harbor, on average, about three colonies per square inch of coliform bacteria (2.75 to be exact). So there are some. But here’s the thing — that’s cleaner than both the refrigerator handle (5.37 colonies per square inch) and the kitchen counter (5.75 colonies per square inch).

We spend so much time worrying about what food might have picked up from the floor, but we don’t worry about touching the refrigerator. We also don’t seem as worried about food that touches the counter. But the counter is just as dirty, if not dirtier.

Educational, informative, often humorous, RTFA. Reason prevails. That alone makes this a standout.

Florida just flushed its collective toilet onto the beaches


Water sample at Fort Myers beachCheryl Cagle Jones

Just in time for tourist season, both of Florida’s coasts are being flooded by dark, polluted water that’s killing ocean creatures and turning away would-be swimmers, fishermen, and other visitors.

Last month was South Florida’s wettest January since 1932. Because of the heavy rain, the water levels in Lake Okeechobee in central Florida rose to about a foot above what’s normal for this season. On top of that, water managers began to pump dirty water from flooded farms into the lake, adding more pollution to a body of water that already contains fertilizers and other chemicals from the state’s cattle and sugar industries.

At the same time, officials began to worry that the rising lake waters would put stress on its aging dike, so they decided to drain the lake toward the east and west coasts. Some 70,000 gallons per second flowed into the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee River all the way through to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. And as the toxic runoff spreads, it’s threatening sea grasses and oyster beds and is adding to harmful algae growth.

Now the tourism industry and small businesses on the coasts are worried that they’re going to see their business slump as a result of the pollution. Local politicians are calling on Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency, and mayors are traveling to Washington, D.C. to demand action from Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers…

According to David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida branch of the environmental law group Earthjustice, the pollution is not going to end any time soon…The lake is basically a toilet,” Guest says. Florida’s powerful sugar industry has stood in the way of the state purchasing land south of the lake that could be used to build a waterway to direct dirty water to the Everglades, cleansing it along the way.

Enjoy your Spring Break, gang. Let us know how if the beaches in Florida smell as bad as the state politics.

Stupid gun nut trick of the day — shoot yourself while you’re on the crapper!

cops at westbrook elementary

A teacher in the…state of Utah who was legally carrying a gun in her primary school accidentally shot herself in the leg…The incident happened in a staff toilet before classes started and no children were in the building…

The unidentified woman was seriously injured but was in a good condition in hospital by the afternoon.

Utah is among a number of states that allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons into primary schools.

A larger number of states leave it up to individual school districts to prohibit firearms on school campuses or allow only teachers and other school staff to carry guns.

Utah also prohibits school officials from asking teachers if they are carrying a firearm.

In Taylorsville, Utah, on Thursday, school district spokesman Ben Horsley told the Associated Press news agency the district required teachers who carry guns at school to keep the weapons with them at all time, including in the toilet…

Crisis counsellors were available and a substitute teacher was brought in to supervise the wounded teacher’s class, he added.

The school pays for the crisis counsellor. You have to get your own counsellor for stupid.

Another Bill Gates prizewinner — solar toilets to improve sanitation

Reinvent the Toilet
Click on the graphic to see it all

Bill Gates is, in a manner of speaking, flushing his money down the toilet…His charitable organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is looking for future loos that can improve sanitation around the world.

At the Reinvent the Toilet fair, hosted at its Seattle campus this week, designs included a lavatory that used microwave energy to turn poo into electricity…Another turned excrement into charcoal, while a third used urine for flushing.

In total 28 designs were shown off at the fair and the winner was a team from the California Institute of Technology…Led by Prof Michael Hoffman, the toilet they designed was solar-powered and generated hydrogen gas and electricity. They won a $100,000 prize.

The project challenged inventors to come up with a toilet that operated without running water, electricity or a septic system. It needed to operate at a cost of no more than five cents (3p) a day and would ideally capture energy or other resources…

Traditional flush toilets waste tons of drinking water and are often impractical in many areas of the developing world.

The UN estimates that disease caused by unsafe sanitation is responsible for half of the hospitalisations in the developing world. About 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhoeal disease…

Bravo! Chalk up another positive step by the Gates Foundation. Imagine how many important tasks like this would move towards reality, functional aid to the poor of the world – as an alternative to the devotion to death and destruction so well-funded in the United States, UK, Russia and in other “modern” nations?

Newlywed woman refuses to move in until her hubby installs a toilet

A newlywed woman in a village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has won her struggle to have a toilet at her husband’s home.

Anita Narre left husband Shivram’s home two days after her marriage in May last year because the house had no toilet. She returned eight days later after Shivram, a daily wage worker, built one with savings and aid from villagers.

An NGO announced a $10,000 reward for Mrs Narre for her “brave” decision and forcing her husband to build a toilet.

More than half-a-billion Indians still lack access to basic sanitation. The problem is acute in rural India and it is the women who suffer most.

Shivram said he was not able to build a toilet at home because of lack of money. He admitted that his wife returned home only after he constructed one with his savings and “some support from the village council”.

“It is not nice for women to go outside to defecate. That’s why every home should have a toilet. Those who don’t should make sure there is one,” Mrs Narre told the BBC.

I’m with you Mrs Narre, Lots of younger folks won’t remember how primitive toilet accommodations can be. Even an outdoors privy can be made usable with care and good design. It’s always worth the effort in terms of health and sanity.

I still remember when my grandparents were building their home on a farm in upstate New York and my parents wouldn’t bring the family up to visit until they had at least built a two-holer out beyond the environs of the house.

And we had a hell of a celebration when they finally installed the indoor crapper. Made winter visits practical.

One in six mobile phones in the UK infected with E coli

One in six UK mobile phones are contaminated with faecal bacteria due to poor personal hygiene, scientists have found.

Researchers said that 16% of the devices were contaminated with E coli, which can cause food poisoning, most probably because people fail to properly wash their hands after going to the toilet. The study…also found that Britons tend to lie about their personal hygiene…

Dr Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “This study provides more evidence that some people still don’t wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet.

“I hope the thought of having E coli on their hands and phones encourages them to take more care in the bathroom – washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives.”

Birmingham has the highest proportion of bacteria-ridden phones (41%) but the highest level of E coli contamination was found in London (28%).

But the scientists also found a north-south divide in the levels of bacteria found on phones, with northern cities the dirtiest. Glasgow was the worst with average bacterial levels on phones and hands nine times higher than in Brighton…

Dr Ron Cutler, of Queen Mary, University of London, said: “While some cities did much better than others, the fact that E coli was present on phones and hands in every location shows this is a nationwide problem.

People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise.”

BTW, today, 15th October is Global Handwashing Day.

I doubt anyone in the US knows that, either. Or washes their hands anymore often.

Anonymous donor leaves 10 million yen in public toilet

An anonymous donor has left a wad of cash worth $131,000 in a public toilet in Japan, with instructions it be used to help victims of the March earthquake and tsunami…

A plastic shopping bag, containing 10 million yen, was found on September 22 in a toilet for disabled people in the city hall of Sakado, a commuter town north of Tokyo, a city official told AFP.

The city will give the money to the Japanese Red Cross if the anonymous donor doesn’t reclaim it within three months, city spokeswoman Masumi Sekiguchi said.

She said a hand-written note was attached to the cash, reading: “I’m all alone. I have no future so let the people in Tohoku use it.”

Tohoku is the country’s northeast region devastated by the catastrophe that killed 20,000 people and triggered an emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

“There was no witness to the act and we cannot guess what kind of person has been involved,” she said. “We were really surprised. We also feel thankful for such kindness.”

The kind of person was an ordinary human being. Someone guided more by kindness than greed. Someone guided more by love for fellow human beings than gold.

An ordinary human being.

Forgotten mooncakes spark bomb scare in Taiwan subway toilet

Police in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung mobilized the bomb squad after a suspicious package was found in a subway station toilet, only to find it contained nothing more dangerous than mooncakes.

A cleaner called police to report the package left on top of a waste bin Saturday. Part of the station, known for its stained glass ceiling, was cordoned off and explosives experts were called in.

TV pictures showed a police officer in a full protective suit entering the toilet carrying specialist equipment while other officers waited outside with more gear. The officer then emerged carrying a bright blue cardboard box full of mooncakes, pastries with sweet fillings traditionally eaten at the Mid-Autumn Festival.

It was x-rayed first to see what it was and whether there was any chemical or electrical reaction,” local police station chief Cheng Ming-chung told TV.

“Someone must have put it down to use the toilet and forgotten it when they left,” he said, adding that the police would continue to investigate.

Nice fresh mooncakes. Think they’ll end up in “Lost and Found” or shared at the police station?

If I realized these were my mooncakes, the last thing I would do is try to claim them back from the coppers. They might try to bill me for the cost of the security alert.

Ferryboat captain stuck in crapper – unguided vessel runs aground

A Finnish ferry has run aground while its captain was stuck in the bathroom.

One member of staff managed to slow the island-hopping tourist ferry down, but the vessel, carrying 54 passengers, slammed onto a rock near the shore of Helsinki, the Finnish coastguard said…

The captain got stuck in the bathroom because of a jammed lock and yelled for help, the coastguard said.

…The coastguard is investigating whether the captain’s actions amounted to criminal endangerment.

What was he supposed to do? Steer the ship by flushing the toilet?

Are you klutzy enough to need an air bag for your smartphone?

Diagram from the patent application

Jeff Bezos is worried about phone safety. Not your safety while you’re distracted by your phone. No, he’s worried about the gadget itself.

The Amazon boss and his colleague, Vice President Gregory M. Hart, filed a patent application to protect their idea of an air bag that inflates around your mobile device if you drop it. Broadly, the duo are seeking to patent the idea of a “system and method for protecting devices from impact damage…”

The idea is to use a device’s built-in gyroscope, camera, or other sensors to determine if the device its moving quickly toward the ground or some other object. If it determines that damaging impact is imminent, it triggers a protection system to absorb the fall…

And the patent filing isn’t just attempting to cover device air bags. Bezos and Hart also envision a “reorientation element” that would turn the device so that it hits the ground on the side of the device where the air bag has been deployed. And it doesn’t have to be an air bag. The filing also contemplates using “a propulsion element, a spring, an impact absorbing structure, and a reinforced edge,” among other protection elements.

Of course, you still could buy a humungous case or just quit dropping the bloody thing. I presume the addition of the air bag also makes it float if you drop your phone into the toilet.