February 15th, 2010

Five Second Rule


Dear Scientific Community,

I heard something on the radio last week that sent me into a spiral of despair, rocking my parental philosophies to their very core.

The five second rule isn’t real.

Apparently, you have again set out to prove that just as much bacteria can collect on a piece of food that has sat on the ground for five seconds as would collect on a piece of food sitting there for, say, 30 seconds. Or five minutes.

Well forgive me for saying so, but duh.

What we have here is a basic misunderstanding. You seem to think that the five second rule is a sanitary guideline that we look to when keeping our children’s health in mind. It is not. The five second rule is a coping mechanism designed to keep our sanity in mind. We KNOW that dropping food on the ground is unclean; we feel a wrench in our stomachs when our children peel their sandwiches off the floor, blow it off and pop it in their mouths. We are aware of the potential consequences of consuming sullied food.

The problem is we don’t care.

I wonder if, in your laboratory, you were able to exactly reproduce the environment in which this most important of maxims is invoked. I’m sure you had a wide selection of foods, an interesting array of germs and dirt on the floor and all of the proper tools and timing mechanisms. But did you also have a screaming toddler on one hip? Perhaps something was burning on the stove? Were you trying to drain spaghetti while holding the toddler while also talking on the phone with your child’s teacher? Were there cats, dogs, needy husbands and dependents all looking to you for dinner, homework help and clean socks? Then in the midst of all of this, did a grumpy, hungry kid drop their cracker on the floor? I deeply believe if they had, you would have thrown your microscopes to the floor and run out the door yelling “Five second rule!” End of experiment.

Instead of spending your valuable time and collective genius solving problems that don’t exist, perhaps you could look into ways to help preserve the stability of the parental state. Self-cleaning socks? Homework robots? Get ahead of the problem, people.

In the meantime, don’t touch our rules.

Yours in health,

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This Weeks Tip

Store juice boxes or pouches in the freezer. They make great freezer packs to go in school lunch bags!