Tag Archives: donna quirk

5 Second Rule – Are You Safe?

by Susan K Wilkerson, RD, LD

The majority of Americans are familiar with the “5 Second Rule.”  Drop a piece of food on a dirty surface or the floor, and if you pick it up within 5 seconds, it is not contaminated and is O.K to eat.  This is a common superstition and proven to be a myth.

The “5 Second Rule” was featured on an episode of the Discovery Channel series “MythBusters.”  They found there was no significant difference in the amount of bacteria collected from a 2-second exposure and a 6-second exposure.  The moisture, surface geometry, and location where the food item was dropped did, however, affect the number of bacteria.

Ted Allen put the rule to the test in an episode of “Food Detectives” and found that bacteria will cling to food immediately. High traffic areas will lead to even more bacteria on the food.

So says Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System.  Parada cautioned that as soon as something touches an unclean surface, it picks up dirt and bacteria.  The amount of bacteria and what type depends on the object that is dropped and where it lands.

Rinsing off dropped food with water may not clean them entirely, but it could significantly reduce the amount of bacteria on it Parada noted.  “Maybe the dropped item only picks up 1,000 bacteria, but typically the amount of bacteria that is needed for most people to actually get infected is 10,000 bacteria – then the odds are that no harm will occur,” he said.

That’s not the case for items that are “cleaned” by licking them off or putting them in the mouth. “That is double-dipping,” Parada explained. “You are exposing yourself to bacteria and you are adding your own bacteria to it.  No one is spared anything with this move.”

So the lesson learned here is if food drops on an unclean surface, throw it out.  No minimal amount of time is safe from bacterial contamination.

Have a Safe Summer Cook-out – Keep Your Food Safe!

By: Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager

Its summer and it is time for vacations and get-togethers with family and friends.  With soaring temperatures, it is more important than ever to keep food safety in mind when planning that outdoor barbecue, pool party or day at Lake Murray.

So as you head outside, remember to:

  • Wash the grill and wash you hands before you start preparing and cooking food.  Bring moist towelettes or waterless hand sanitizer outside for everyone to use.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by washing tongs and other cooking utensils that touch raw meat before using them to remove cooked meat and other foods from the grill.
  • Don’t end up with undercooked meat by relying on your vision to determine if meat is cooked. Use a food thermometer.  Cook hamburgers to an internal temperature of 160° F and chicken breasts and legs to 165°F.
  • It is hot out there!  Don’t let food sit out for more than one hour in 90° or above temperatures.  Use a cooler filled ¼ full of ice or ice packs to promptly store foods after they are served.  Pay close attention to mayonnaise-based salads like egg, potato, and tuna salads.
  • Don’t use ice that was in a cooler keeping food cold in a beverage.  Ice may pick up bacteria from leaking food containers.

Enjoy your summer get-togethers, but also take a little extra time to plan how you will keep your food safe in this famous South Carolina heat.  By doing so, you will ensure everyone has a great day out!

The Role Potassium Plays to Lower Blood Pressure

By:  Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager

When it comes to lowering blood pressure, most of us know we should eat less sodium, lose weight, and exercise.  However, getting enough potassium in our diets is often overlooked.

How does potassium help lower blood pressure?  It has two main functions:

  1. The more potassium we consume, the more sodium is excreted through urine and out of the body, and
  2. Potassium helps relax blood vessel walls, which helps lower blood pressure.

For these reasons, along with eating less sodium, it is recommended that most adults eat 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.  A word of caution, if you have kidney disease, please talk to your doctor before eating more potassium.

To get more potassium from you diet:

  • Eat 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  All fruits and vegetables have some potassium.  The highest in potassium are Sweet Potatoes, Greens, Spinach, Lima Beans, Peas, Bananas, Tomatoes, Oranges and Orange Juice, Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons, Raisins and Dates.
  • Eat 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free Milk or Yogurt per day.
  • Eat Fish 2 to 3 times a week.

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month and Stroke Awareness Month.  Set a goal today to get your blood pressure under control by eating less sodium and more POTASSIUM!