Would You Eat an M&M That Fell on the Floor?


News you can use from Aaron Carroll:

Perhaps no one in the United States has spent more time investigating the occurrence of bacteria on public surfaces than Charles Gerba.

According to Carroll, Gerba’s research tells us that it’s just fine to eat food that you’ve dropped on the floor. This sounds suspiciously like motivated reasoning to support the stereotypical male point of view, and I’m a little curious to learn what Mrs. Carroll thinks of this. I suppose we’ll never know. In any case, the argument here is that your average floor is no more germy than any other surface in your house, and less so than many. Kitchen floors, for example, have about half the bacteria of kitchen counters.

That’s all fair enough, but what about ordinary old dirt and dust? My kitchen counters have almost none of that. My kitchen floor has lots, thanks to the fact that I walk on it, the cats walk on it, the dust accumulates until I vacuum it, and so forth. It may be that dirt and dust aren’t likely to make you sick, but it’s still a little disgusting to have it all over your food. Or am I being a little too fastidious here?

Of course, it also depends on the food item. If a peanut M&M fell on the floor, I’d have no qualms about rubbing it clean with my shirt and then eating it. But a leftover piece of chicken? Probably not.

I wonder what Donald Trump would think of all this? He’s a famous germaphobe, but he also apparently thinks that fast food is safer than other foods because it’s highly processed and standardized. So what would he think about an M&M that fell on the floor?

UPDATE: Mrs. Carroll speaks!

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