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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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!

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate