Okay let’s imagine this… it’s a hot afternoon, you’ve had a long day at school, you’re terribly famished and you just closed. En route to your hostel you recall the 4 pieces of KFC chicken in your fridge and a wide grin spreads across your face. You enter your room grab the chicken pieces and just as you sit to your meal, the door flies open…it’s 3 of your closest buddies. Automatically you know you are down to just one piece of chicken. Before it could get any worse you pick up the only piece left in an attempt to bite and oops….it slips….you try to catch it….you miss….you miss again….and it falls to the ground! You recall the ‘5 second rule’….1 second gone….you begin to wonder whether to pick it….2 seconds gone….should you??….3 gone….if you pick it and eat it, what would your friends think?….4 gone….time to act! What do you do…?????
For those of us unfamiliar with the ‘5 second rule’, you must have heard the saying ‘African germs don’t kill’. As such, it’s common practice, especially among kids, to pick up food that has fallen on the floor, dust or blow it and then pop it into our mouths. Well this rule has been tested and I’m sorry to say that it’s very possible that African germs can kill. Even if you pick it off the floor super-fast. Also a clean floor isn’t necessarily clean. Some germs can survive even after cleaning and you can’t check with your eyes.
“Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously” according to Professor Donald Schaffuer of Rutgers University. Bacteria can attach to your food as soon as it hits the floor, especially if the conditions are right. Conditions such as a very dirty floor, moisture and contact time. Bacteria move with the moisture and the longer the contact time means more bacteria. Some bacteria are not harmful, but others can give you awful stuff like diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, stomach flu, parasitic infestations and even hepatitis.
So now back to scenario we imagined earlier. What are we to do with that delicious piece of food??? Stop counting down the seconds and let it go. Its the best and safest option no matter how expensive or tasty the food was. Let it go…

By Mr. Kofi Bentsi-Enchill
Bisa, Research

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