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Published: Tuesday, 2/27/2007

Don't be so picky

So, you're at the local diner and you notice a lipstick print on the edge of your glass. Take heart and slurp away. A new study from Ohio State University says this is a substance inhospitable to bacteria. It may even be lethal to bacteria.

Yeah, I know what you're saying: Yelch. Who cares if bacteria don't like it? I and bacteria are in full agreement, for once. It is disgusting. Send the glass back.

The researcher, clearly one of these glass-is-half-full-despite-lipstick guys, remarks that lipstick seems to have antimicrobial properties, which was a big surprise to us.

But listen, if the glass has a little bit of milk inside, then you have the researcher's permission to send it back. Milk not only sticks to glasses very efficiently, it carries bacteria well, too.

Here is a reprint of the OSU press release on the research.

Anyway, I read the study in the Journal of Food Engineering and it sounds like research you could do at home with the kids: Ceramic plates, drinking glasses, stainless-steel forks, spoons, and knives and plastic serving trays were contaminated with egg, cheese, jelly, lipstick and milk.

The also added a little E. coli into the mix, as well as a bug called Listeria innocula.

Then they washed the dishes by hand in room-temperature water and little soap. Does this seem familiar? Have you noticed members of your household who wash this way? If it does, you'll be glad to know that even with this slipshod washing, bacteria were greatly reduced in most cases reaching the U.S. Food & Drug Administration standard of a 5-log reduction, that is, a reduction in organisms by 10 to the 5th power, or a 100,000-fold reduction.

Except milk. If you have dried milk on the glass, it's probably going to stick and contain more critters than is necessarily nice. Forks, also, were problematic. Their very shape protected the bacteria they carried. The scientist's advice: (big surprise) turn up the heat, use more soap, scrub more thoroughly.

Anyway, this seems like a good way to trick kids into doing dishes in the dishwasherless home (are there many of those left?): Hey, Mom and Dad want to do an EXPERIMENT! Come on kids! It will be fun!

As to my own experiment in gravity, I went to the orthopedic surgeon today, and he put a new, lighter cast on my broken leg and foot, and told me that I needed another week of keeping my foot elevated. He also barred me from air travel, which is keeping me from a friend's wedding in Texas. I canceled the flight today, and I'm paying a $100 penalty for the privilege, doctor's note notwithstanding.

Gravity, it seems, is an expensive task master.

Anyway, I'm beyond feeling very good humored about any of this right now. I'm sore from sitting around and fed up with how little I can do for myself. I actually didn't write a blog entry yesterday because I was trying to find something MEANINGFUL to say. Who am I kidding?

Still, I'll try to quit moping tomorrow & promise to devote myself to my blog in these idle hours.

So, please stop by, or I'll bite your head off.

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