Five-Second Rule for Dropped Food Debunked by Researchers

September 11th, 2016

Food waste is bad, but if you drop it on the floor, do not eat it anyway.

While we’ve all heard the “five-second rule” repeated as if it’s scientific fact, it may be safer to have a zer0-second rule! Recently, researchers at Rutgers set out to determine if it’s safe to eat dropped food that’s picked up within five seconds.

Photo from flickr internets_dairy

Photo by flickr internets_dairy

It’s Complicated: Surface, Moisture and Time all Matter

If there’s any truth to the five-second rule, it’s that the longer the food is left on the contact surface, the greater the bacteria transfer. However, scientists call the five-second rule a “significant oversimplification” of what occurs when bacteria transfers from a surface to food.

Bacteria Transfer Can Happen in an Instant

Researchers found that while type of surface, moisture and contact time all contribute to contamination of food dropped on surfaces, bacteria can transfer to dropped food “instantaneously.”

Researchers noted that it’s possible for bacteria to begin its transfer to food in less than one second! So, unless you’re some type of superhero, don’t take the chance!

Photo bt flickr Barta IV, Photographer

Photo by flickr Barta IV, Photographer

Where to Find the Research on the Five-Second Rule

Read the published research at Applied and Environmental Microbiology: “Longer Contact Times Increase Cross-Contamination of Enterobacter aerogenes from Surfaces to Food.” Or read the press release: Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’: Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe.”

Hungry for Food not Dropped on the Floor? Consider a meatless tomato and hummus sandwich. Or feast on creole red bean soup with shrimp.

Blog Action Day 2014: Inequality Creates Suffering

October 16th, 2014

I’m happy to once again take part in Blog Action Day. Light Green Stairs has participated since the beginning in 2007!

The topic this year is especially important. Inequality exists all around us. Frankly, this topic is so important, it’s difficult to be specific in just one blog post. But I’ll try…

Rich and Poor

Oxfam is a key partner for Blog Action Day 2014. According to them, the richest 66 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. (A previous report indicated the richest 85, but that number has since been updated to the richest 66. It’s getting worse!)

 

oxfam-inequality

 

What does this mean, and why care?

If you’re poor, you’re more likely to die sooner than a rich person. Part of the reason is lack of access to health care. But another issue is the inability to afford healthy food, or living in a food desert with no access to healthy food. And extreme poverty is very stressful.

What else does inequality mean?

Yeah, I told you it’s difficult to be too specific with this issue! It’s not just about income. Inequality exists on many levels:

-Inequality against women, including violence, attitudes, sexual harassment and getting paid less than men for the same work

-Inequality against the elderly, including just not taking them seriously or placing value on their lives

-Inequality against the disabled, including bullying or not affording the same opportunities as abled-bodies people receive

– Inequality based on race, including police violence against unarmed black teenagers

 

BAD2014 copy

 

What can you do about it?

First, take a look at your own beliefs and attitudes. No one is perfect, including me. Ask yourself how you can work to make things better, not just in the United States, but anywhere in the world where there is suffering caused by inequality.

Most importantly, ask yourself how you can help end poverty. Your work could be political, or it may be humanitarian. It could be as simple as volunteering to help someone improve their literacy skills, or donating to a nonprofit that fights poverty.

Finally...

Stay in touch with the conversation on Blog Action Day, October 16, with these hashtags:  #BAD2014 #Blogaction14, #Inequality, #Oct16

Is no nut butter safe? Arrowhead and MaraNatha Recall.

August 20th, 2014

Peanut butter just doesn’t have a good track record for safety. If you think that sticking with a natural brand keeps you safe, maybe not! The FDA has a full list of recalled nut butters from nSpired Natural Foods.

recall-nut-butter

Who’s on the list of recalled peanut butters and almond butters?

  • Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butter
  • MaraNatha Almond Butter
  • MaraNatha Peanut Butter
  • Store brands from Kroger, Whole Foods, Safeway and Trader Joe’s

Check your refrigerator and pantry for the recalled nut butters and throw them away, container and all. For a refund, call 1-800-937-7008, but you may be lucky to get through.

I had one of the recalled MaraNatha Almond Butter products in my refrigerator and couldn’t get through after calling several of the phone numbers listed, so I sent a message to MaraNatha via their contact page.

Did the recalled almond butter make me sick? I’m not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. I had a mysterious and very unpleasant vomiting episode a few weeks ago around the time I ate some of the almond butter, but I didn’t go to the doctor. I was the only one who ate some of it, and I haven’t eaten any of it lately, thankfully! I just didn’t make the connect.

Many cases of food poisoning go unreported. Right now, it’s suspected that four illnesses are linked to these recalled products.

I think I’m going to stick with just eating the nuts from now on, or make my own nut butter. How about you?

Siggi’s! Finally, yogurt without so much sugar.

June 26th, 2014

When I’ve attempted to shop for yogurt, it has usually ended with me putting everything back and walking away frustrated.

Why? Why? Why?

do you yogurt makers of America have to put so much

sugar in your yogurt?

And also, triple-why, do you have to put so many artificial ingredients in there too?

Isn’t it supposed to be healthy? Ah, that’s what makes me most angry of all: Thinking about the consumers who put sugary, artificial something or other in their shopping carts thinking they’re doing something good.

siggi-icelandic-yogurt

Well, the people at Siggi’s decided to make a good yogurt. One of the few good ones around, no doubt. Pardon my photos of Siggi’s Vanilla yogurt. I just can’t photography white things.

I like….

vanilla-yogurtthat this Icelandic-style yogurt tastes good.

that it has simple ingredients (pasteurized skim milk, organic agave nectar, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, live active cultures).

that it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or growth hormones.

that it has a tab you can pull it make it easy to remove the paper wrapper to recycle separately from the plastic tub.

that it doesn’t taste like it’s non-fat yogurt.

that a 5.3-ounce container has only 100 calories and 9 grams of sugar.

What do you like about Siggi’s yogurt?

Don’t Go Back to Twinkies. Make Healthy Desserts Instead.

July 14th, 2013

So, Twinkies are back. Starting today at Wal-Mart and Monday at other stores. Well, some Kroger stores have them today. Not that I want you to buy them.

I find it a bit odd that the Hostess website doesn’t contain the nutrition information. Sure, you can get that on the box, but this is the age of the Internet. Hostess does, however, offer on their contact page a hotline and an email address for obtaining nutrition information. I’d suggest you read the box or call the hotline before resuming your love affair with Twinkies, or other Hostess treats like fried pies and cupcakes, which are all rising from their graves.

 

Healthy Fudge Brownies photo by chocolate-covered KATIE

Healthy Fudge Brownies photo by chocolate-covered KATIE

 

I love snacks and sweets, but if I’m going to consume sugar and carbs, I like to make it count. And I want healthful ingredients too. Here’s an example. I recently baked my own from-scratch whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, and it was easier than going to the store to buy Twinkies! By the way, whole wheat cookies are much better than they sound. I used the recipe on the back of my bag of whole wheat flour, but there are tons of recipes out there. Just hit Google. It’s difficult to go wrong.

I’m also looking forward to trying other healthier alternatives to packaged or traditionally prepared baked goods, such as chocolate-covered KATIE’s Healthy Fudge Brownies. Katie also offers her recipe for homemade Twinkies!

Do you bake your own desserts?

 

Patriotic Parfaits for Fourth of July

June 11th, 2013

 

Be good to your party guests on diets, and serve them a tasty patriotic yogurt parfait.

No food coloring or added sugar required. After all, blueberries and strawberries are naturals for July 4, but not everyone wants to eat them on top of a flag cake!

 

Shop for fresh berries at your local farmer's market.

Shop for fresh berries at your local farmer’s market. Image by Rhett Maxwell.

 

Patriotic Parfaits

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla or plain nonfat yogurt
  • Granola
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

Make your healthy patriotic parfait by layering the ingredients in a clear glass. Juice cups are perfect for this.

For example, start with granola, and then add yogurt, blueberries, more yogurt, strawberries, and finish with a sprinkle of granola on top. If you’re feeling naughty, substitute white chocolate chips for the granola!

 

Brew Your Own Green Tea

May 23rd, 2013

Would you like some lead with that?

Eek. We’ll get to the leaded truth in a minute, but first, let me explain where all this is coming from.

Independent testing site ConsumerLab.com recently tested bottled green teas and some loose green tea leaves, as well as green tea bags.

And guess what?

The some bottled green teas are pretty much just sugar water with few antioxidants, says The New York Times in their article on the findings from ConsumerLab.com.

Snapple Green Tea and Honest Tea’s Green Tea with Honey didn’t do so well in the antioxidant department. Learn more about the test results at The New York Times.

 

green-tea-teavana

 

Also, while green tea in bags from Lipton and Bigelow contained a good number of antioxidants, the tea leaves also contained lead! The lead in the tea leaves may be the result of industrial pollution in China, reports The New York Times in their interview with Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com.

While most of the lead stays in the leaves instead of your cup, it would be a very bad idea indeed to eat the tea leaves contained in those bags! According to the testing, the Lipton and Bigelow green tea bags offer up 1.25 to 2.5 micrograms of lead per serving. Is that worth the savings over buying loose green tea from a source like Teavana?

Teavana’s Leaves are Lead Free

The better option, according to the testing, is to go with Teavana’s loose green tea. Those tea leaves come from Japan, and testers found no measurable lead in them. What they did find was many antioxidants — you know those healthy things that are supposed to be in the bottled green tea!

Plus, who needs all those bottles anyhow?

(image via flickr Charles Williams)

Does your dog love alpaca dryer balls?

February 28th, 2013

My two wool dryer balls were feeling lonely, so they received some new friends: Alpaca dryer balls! These came from a local farmer’s market.

Overall, I haven’t loved the alpaca dryer balls compared to the wool dryer balls. The alpaca balls seem to unravel more quickly, and they leave alpaca fuzz on clothing. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, or maybe the lady who made them messed up, or perhaps the alpacas were just having a down day.

destroyed-alpaca

One thing I’ve noticed is that my dog not only loves alpaca dryer balls, but she has an elaborately crafty way of stealing them. In fact, it’s so crafty, I don’t really know how she’s doing it.

Stealth

I know that cats are quiet, but how is it that my 60-pound dog is taking these balls out of the dryer without me noticing it?

Maybe balls are getting caught in clothing and falling to the floor without me noticing. I only leave the door open while I’m removing clothing, and I store the balls in the dryer. Sigh. It’s just one of those things. I open the dryer door, she comes running. I block her. I open the freezer door, she comes running (hoping to grab some ice). I block her. Yeah, working on her training.

So, how does it taste, doggie?

Anyhow, this photo depicts the aftermath. Poor deceased alpaca dryer ball. Usually, I take the stolen balls away in time. Oh, and my dog actually eats alpaca fuzz, hair, or whatever the correct name for it. She eats it. Weird dog.

Questions for you:

Does your dog steal dryer balls? Do you like wool or alpaca dryer balls better?

Review: Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer

January 23rd, 2013

Raise your sanitized hand if you can’t stand Purell. Ugh, the scent of it is enough to make this lady with hypochondriacal tendencies take her chances with germs when no water is available. Yeah, I’m talking about myself here.

For several years now I’ve been using CleanWell hand sanitizer. It became a bit more difficult to buy after Target stopped carrying it. I can still order it online though. I have no problems with CleanWell, but my husband complains rather theatrically about the scent, particularly if I spray it in the car. I should insert here that my husband is a super smeller. Well, not technically, but he might as well be.

So, I was up for trying a new natural hand sanitizer, and I received a bottle of Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer as a gift.

natural-hand-sanitizer

Good stuff:

  • The smell is mild and pleasant.
  • Doesn’t sting the skin.
  • Claims to be 100 percent natural.
  • Claims to kill 99.99 percent of germs. (What’s that tricky 0.1 no sanitizer can kill?)

Things to Consider:

  • The active ingredient is 62% ethyl alcohol. I suppose the witch hazel also helps with the product’s germ killing abilities, plus the aloe is nice, but I miss the more potent botanical blend that is CleanWell.
  • No refills. The spray bottle works fine, but you have to buy another one when it’s empty. Burt’s Bees doesn’t offer larger bottles for refills. However, this is still more eco-friendly than buying wipes.
  • No flip top. It’s rather difficult to keep up with the top of the sprayer. I know that sounds lazy, but just think about it: 300 sprays equals 300 chances to lose the top and have a really sanitized purse. CleanWell wins here for having a flip top.

I don’t hate Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer, but I’m not madly in love with it either. I haven’t seen it around much in stores, which means it would be another hand sanitizer I’d have to order online.

As for my husband, he’s yet to complain about the scent. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to be pleasant, or if it does smell better to him than CleanWell. I’m sure the answer will be revealed in due time.

Have you tried Burt’s Bees Aloe and Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer?

Proof Trees May Love You

January 17th, 2013

When a tree falls and you’re not around to hear it, you may still feel it!

Researchers with the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station have found an association between tree health and human health.

Specifically, they found that in areas where more trees have died due to insect infestation, there were more deaths from cardiovascular disease and lower respiratory disease.

image via flickr jojo-bean

(image via flickr jojo-bean)

The researchers say there’s some mysterious thing at work here.

The additional deaths in the more treeless areas can’t be explained away by demographics. It’s something that affects the rich and poor alike. All races. All income levels.

Learn more about this research by reading the U.S. Forest Service press release: Tree and human health may be linked. Just so you know, the research is published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.