Mythological, the 5-Second Rule
Fast-food. America’s guilty pleasure. Governments and doctors warn us about the dangers of fast-food – to our hearts, arteries, skin, weight, even mental functions. You are what you eat, right? But what about the dangers we don’t hear so much about? Dangers other than high cholesterol and obesity, but dangers that could prove just as fatal…
Once upon a time, there was a woman who wanted a burger from a “Fast-Food” restaurant. Promised she could have it her way, this woman requested extra pickles on her burger. Placing her order, she pulled ahead to pay her bill and wait patiently for her food. After a moment, she received her bag and gave a smile.
Now, having learned her lesson in the past, this woman knew better than to pull away without checking her order. So, opening the bag, the woman looked for her extra pickles, but alas! There sat one lone pickle. With a heavy sigh, the woman drove back through the drive through and explained the pickle predicament. She was told to pull forward to the window and someone would bring her out some pickles.
Waiting somewhat less patiently, the woman turned to watch the workers when she noticed one of the employees carrying a container of pickles…but oh, the tragedy! The woman watched in horror as the jar slipped out of the worker’s hands and to the floor. Disheartened, the woman watched as the employee scooped the pickles up with his bare hand, no doubt justifying his actions with the “5 Second Rule.” As the employee approached the window with the calamitous pickles, the woman spoke up, saying, “I just saw you pick the pickles up off the floor.” The worker responded with confusion, “Oh, do you want me to get you a new container?”
Unless I have missed a news bulletin about a severe pickle shortage, why would a worker possibly think that serving pickles from the floor would be okay? Luckily for the woman, she saw this and told a manager. Unfortunately, though, things like this happen far too often, but go unnoticed or not addressed. Workers ignore the signs to wash hands, and apply the “5 Second Rule”. Instead of simply getting a new jar of pickles; they justify the use of the pickles by calling on the “5 Second Rule.” A rule which, according to Dr. Roy M. Gulick, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Weill Comell Medical College, should be renamed the “0 Second Rule.” Dr. Gulick states, “Eating dropped food poses a risk for ingestion of bacteria and subsequent gastrointestinal disease, and the time the food sits on the floor does not change the risk.” In fact, a 2007 article published in The Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers at Clemson University put the fabled “5 Second Rule” to the test. They tested the presence of salmonella on wood, tile, and carpet, and placed bologna on the surfaces for 5, 30, and 60 second duration’s. For wood and tile, more than 99 percent of the bacteria were transferred to the bologna almost immediately; the time of contact made no difference. Five seconds or thirty, the bacteria transferred.
So much for the “5 Second Rule.”
The study also stated that the United States sees an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness every year, and 5200 of those cases are fatal. According to the study, salmonella accounts for 1-4 million of the cases. That’s not even counting the hundreds of unreported food poisonings that occur every year. Maybe someone should mention these findings to the pickle culprit.
While the corporations do try to alert and inform employees of proper safety and health protocol, more steps need to be taken to educate workers about the dangers of improper procedure. Myths like the “5 Second Rule” need to be put to rest, and employees need to understand the real risks and dangers involved in ignoring the health and safety measures that have been put in place. When a worker hands a customer a dirty pickle, they could be handing them a serious illness.
If the cholesterol and heart disease didn’t scare you away from fast-food, maybe this will.