Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’: Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe

Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’:

Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe

Sometimes bacteria can transfer in less than a second.
Turns out bacteria may transfer to candy that has fallen on the floor no matter how fast you pick it up.

Rutgers researchers have disproven the widely accepted notion that it’s okay to scoop up food and eat it within a “safe” five-second window. Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science, found that moisture, type of surface and contact time all contribute to cross-contamination. In some instances, the transfer begins in less than one second.

Their findings appear online in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

“The popular notion of the ‘five-second rule’ is that food dropped on the floor, but picked up quickly, is safe to eat because bacteria need time to transfer,” Schaffner said, adding that while the pop culture “rule” has been featured by at least two TV programs, research in peer-reviewed journals is limited.

“We decided to look into this because the practice is so widespread. The topic might appear ‘light’ but we wanted our results backed by solid science,” said Schaffner, who conducted research with Robyn Miranda, a graduate student in his laboratory at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Researchers found carpet has very low bacteria transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel.

The researchers tested four surfaces – stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet – and four different foods (watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy). They also looked at four different contact times – less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds. They used two media – tryptic soy broth or peptone buffer – to grow Enterobacter aerogenes, a nonpathogenic “cousin” of Salmonella naturally occurring in the human digestive system.Transfer scenarios were evaluated for each surface type, food type, contact time and bacterial prep; surfaces were inoculated with bacteria and allowed to completely dry before food samples were dropped and left to remain for specified periods. All totaled 128 scenarios were replicated 20 times each, yielding 2,560 measurements. Post-transfer surface and food samples were analyzed for contamination.

Not surprisingly, watermelon had the most contamination, gummy candy the least. “Transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture,” Schaffner said. “Bacteria don’t have legs, they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, carpet has very low transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel, whereas transfer from wood is more variable. “The topography of the surface and food seem to play an important role in bacterial transfer,” Schaffner said.

So while the researchers demonstrate that the five-second rule is “real” in the sense that longer contact time results in more bacterial transfer, it also shows other factors, including the nature of the food and the surface it falls on, are of equal or greater importance.

“The five-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food,” Schaffner said. “Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously.”

*This article originally appeared on Rutgers Today and was not authored by Walkingspree.

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Active Online? It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Active Online?
It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Are you active online? Do you update your Facebook status or post new pictures on Instagram? Like to do your shopping online?  The National Cyber Security Alliance wants to remind you that any time you share information online, it is a potential doorway for a variety of criminals, including, but not limited to perpetrators of identity theft, home robbery and fraud.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)– #CyberAware –  and was created by government and industry to help safeguard Americans by providing the information needed to stay safer online. 2016 marks the 13th annual NCSAM, co-founded and co-led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).  NCSA is the United States’ leading nonprofit, public-private partnership focused on cybersecurity education and awareness. Data shows that more than one-third of U.S. consumers have tackled a computer virus, been a victim of a hacking incident or other form of cyber-attack in the last year. Cybercrime is an ongoing challenge and NCSA and DHS work year round to encourage awareness about internet safety and being responsible online.

At Walkingspree, we encourage people to be more physically active. We know that many of you are also very active online. This month we’re encouraging you to be actively responsible with your online security precautions. Take some time to review how secure your information is and also talk with your children and the elderly about being safe online.

The NCSA has a comprehensive website with extensive resources focused on staying safe online. Topics range from preventing your personal accounts from being hacked to cutting down on spam to protecting your business from cybercrime and more. You’ll also find resources on how to teach cyber security to different age groups. This is a great resource for parents of young children. You can find this information on the NCSA website.

There are some great tip sheets located on the website and you may want to save and send some around to your friends or to co-workers. The following tip sheet on mobile safety tips is short and sweet example of these resources.

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Vitamin D and Heart Disease

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamine

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

Vitamin D may prevent heart disease, especially in men. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reported that men who took 600 IU of vitamin D a day were 28 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease or stroke, as compared to men who took 100 IU or less a day.

So how much should you take? Healthy adults should take 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily. People over age 70 should take 800 IU.

Sunlight is a natural source as it helps our body produce vitamin D, just 10 to 15 minutes exposure will do it. But that can be a challenge for people who live in northern climates, especially in the winter months when the rays of the sun are not strong enough to produce the required amounts of vitamin D in our bodies.

Other sources include oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines; foods fortified with vitamin D like milk, yogurt, orange juice and some ready-to-eat cereals; and vitamin supplements. You could also take a tablespoon of cod liver oil which has 1,360 IU.

But more is not necessarily better – above 4,000 IU a day the risk of adverse effects increases. If you want to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, contact your doctor about having your level check through a blood test.

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

The following information is taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ website,

One in 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and get more active.

Make a difference for kids: spread the word about strategies for preventing childhood obesity and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

How can National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month make a difference?
We can all use the remainder of the month to raise awareness about the obesity epidemic and show people how they can take steps toward a solution.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage families to make small changes, like keeping fresh fruit within reach or going on a family walk after dinner.
  • Motivate teachers and administrators to make schools healthier. Help them provide healthy food options and daily physical activities for students.
  • Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by supporting programs to prevent childhood obesity.

How can I help spread the word?

We’ve made it easier for you to make a difference. This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:

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Beginner 5K Walk (3.1 Miles)

As Walkingspree members, you’re already walking. Some of you are collecting steps throughout the day and others at concentrated walks. Now you can add another layer to your walking by learning how to increase your walking distance, speed and time by participating in a 5K Walk event (3.1 miles or approx 6,000 steps). Fall is an ideal time to do your first 5K event.

Don’t worry about speed at the beginning and instead focus on the time you spend walking. Take each part at your own pace and repeat until you can follow the plan.

Getting Started on a 5K Walk:

Weeks 1 – 2

We’re going to assume that as Walkingspree members, you’ve already been walking for 100 minutes/week and are able to walk daily for 20 minutes at a time.

Check your Getting Started Guide (First Steps: A Walking Primer) on your login page for tips on walking shoes, walking form and other getting started with walking tips.

Week 3: Walk at a Moderate Pace

Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 25 minutes, 5 days a week. Weekly total goal: 100 – 125 minutes.

Measure your Intensity

Talk test. If you’re so out of breath that you can’t carry on a conversation with the person you’re walking with, you’re probably walking too fast and should slow down.

Perceived exertion Scale. You rate how hard you think you’re working on a scale that ranges from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort). Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.

Monitor your heart rate (pulse). To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate. Your target heart rate will depend on age. Resting heart rate average is 72 beats per minute.

Week 4: Add a Long Day

Time: Add 5 minutes a day to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week, at a moderate pace. Weekly total goal: 125 – 150 minutes.

Start building mileage by adding a long day. Every week, add one long day on your fifth day. This should be a 40 minute walk at an easy pace.

Week 5: Adding Speed

Time: Walk 30 minutes a day on four days a week.
Long Walk: walk 45 minutes at an easy pace.

Building speed: During your short walks, focus on your form. If you have not been using arm motion, this can help improve your speed (do not carry weights while walking as that can cause injury).

Week 6: Build on your Mileage

Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week, paying attention to form and speed.
Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

Weeks 7 and 8: Adding Intervals

You’ve done great and by now you could complete your 5K walk. This is a good time to add intervals to your walk as they help build stamina, speed and endurance.

For your long week this week, walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

Week 9 and Beyond

Why not try turning your long walk into a dry run for your event every other week. Try to increase your pace and walk at 80% of the speed that you hope to walk for the 5K event. You can also try adding another 15 minutes to your walk to increase distance.

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