Before you start making the rounds to all those holiday parties, there’s something you should know: People are pretty gross when it comes to food preparation. Don’t think so? Take a look at the top five nastiest–and germiest–food habits that Health.com just unveiled from a recent poll.
Spoon Licking. Yes, nearly all of us, 73 percent, do this germy behavior while cooking. Let me just try a bit of this, we tell ourselves as we dip our spoon into the cake batter, soup or sauce. Not only are you potentially licking raw eggs or other uncooked ingredients, but you could be making your guests sick. That’s because licking the spoon or sampling things as you’re making them can introduce strep or the flu into the bowl and infect people. “Even if you don’t feel sick, trouble could be brewing, especially during wintertime when germs run rampant,” Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City told Health. The best advice (aside from don’t do it?): “Keep a bowl and a teaspoon by the pot or dish and ladle in food to taste.”
Double dip. Seinfeld first made this a major faux pas with his “You doubled dipped the chip!” rant, and yet 76 percent of us still do this. Not only is it just gross to continue putting your saliva back in the bowl, but researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina found that dips gained 100,000 bacteria after testers dug in. “Double-dipping is the bacterial equivalent of French kissing everyone in the room,” says study author and food scientist Paul Dawson. If that’s not enough to discourage us from doing this, another study found that about 10 percent of a random sampling of people had E. coli (fecal contamination) on their hands when they reached into a bowl. Double eww. Your best bet? Avoid serving and eating from a communal dip.
Serving food dropped on the floor. Admit it, you’ve dropped food on the floor during preparation, thought about it for a second and then dusted it off or washed it off and continued using it. Don’t feel bad…54 percent of people admitted to doing the same exact thing. Food’s expensive, right? And your floors are clean, right? Well, in a study from Dawson, fallen food picked up salmonella from the floor almost immediately, especially to moist foods like fruit and meat. Next time this happens, just cut off the part of the food that touched the floor and reheat it. So much for the five second rule!
Serving expired food. Again, food’s expensive, so why throw away something that looks perfectly good? Well 52 percent of us don’t. In fact, we admit to serving food that is past the expiration date, which is not always a bad thing. ”Dates on food have more to do with quality than safety,” Joan Salge Blake, RD, a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told Health. But anything that has a foul smell or mold should get tossed. And any fresh meat, chicken, turkey, or fish that’s more than a few days past its use-by date should be thrown away, unless you want to risk food poisoning.
Keeping food with bugs. This one is hard to believe. And let’s hope none of the parties we end up at have hostesses that do this: 31 percent don’t toss food with bugs. Granted, some bugs like aphids, ants, spiders or earthworms are harmless, but cockroaches are bad news. They can transmit organisms like salmonella that can make you and your guests sick, so please trash any food where one was crawling.
What germy food behaviors do you want to confess?