The Danger of Licking That Spoon
April 1, 2013

The Danger Of Licking That Spoon

CNN recently posted an article about some pretty gross behaviors. Well, maybe not gross completely, but at least unsanitary. CNN found its information from a poll of some 400 readers and 100 professional chefs. Let’s take a look at these.

Licking the Spoon

Yep, that’s right. According to the poll, 73 percent of us lick the spoon while we cook. This means that 73 percent of those polled admitted that while they were cooking, they would stir, lick the spoon, and put it back into the bowl to stir some more. No washing. No getting a new stirring spoon. Nope, just lick and stir, lick and stir.

Now, after the cooking is done, sure I like to lick the spoon, but while I am in the midst of cooking, I would never think of it. I do taste my dishes, but I always use a clean spoon. Most people like to taste what they are cooking, so it does not surprise me that they taste the dish, but it does surprise me that they use a utensil that is part of the cooking process to do this.

CNN suggested to keep a bowl and spoon near the pot or bowl or dish, and just ladle in as you go, only don’t use the spoon you are using to taste the foods as the ladle.


If 73 percent of cooking lickers was not high enough, then check this out; 76 percent of those polled double-dip, meaning to dip a chip in, let’s say, ranch dip, take a bite, and then dip the same chip again. According to one of the study’s authors, “Double-dipping is the bacterial equivalent of French kissing everyone in the room.” I don’t know about you, but there are some people I would not ever want to kiss in anyway. Ewww.

Really, the communal dip is a problem even if no one double-dips because people still put their fingers into bowls filled with dip. They might not swirl their fingers around in the dip, but those germs still make their way into dips. In fact, the study found that after testers ate dip, 100,000 more bacteria were present. Yuck.

So, CNN advised including a spoon with dips or, better yet, serving dips the Martha Stewart way—in individual mini cups with sliced veggies, pretzels, or chips on the side.

Serving Dropped Food

Oh yeah, that’s right. Apparently, 54 percent of us serve food we have dropped on the floor. Food picked up from the floor can pick up salmonella, but think of all the things that traipse through the kitchen, from kids dirty feet to our shoes to the pets paws. That’s a lot of bacteria possibility.

Even dry foods like nuts contract bacteria when being on the floor. Not even the five-second rule should ever apply. Here’s what CNN suggests to do with that fallen food:

  1. Slice off the part that touched the floor
  2. Reheat food to 165° F
  3. Turn crudités into a stir-fry or sliced fruit into a warm compote

Ignoring the Expiration Date

Accordingly, 52 percent of people “dish out food past the expiration date.” Now, I have to say that I do not see this as a problem, and neither does CNN. As they said, “There’s no harm done. In fact, the other 48% of poll-takers are probably wasting perfectly good food.

Yep, turns out those expiration dates do not make food any more or less gross.


Another thing that might seem gross but really isn’t, is the bugs we might find in our foods, specifically organic. If you buy organic lettuce, you are more likely to see an aphid or earthworm. So what? Toss the bug, but eat the lettuce. It is still perfectly edible and safe. Spiders and ants are the same. However, cockroaches mean germs, so toss that food.


All in all, though, if I went to a dinner party and found out the cook licked the spoon or dropped some of the food on the floor, I would probably still eat it. And I think many of us feel that same way. After all, before anti-bacterial hand sanitizer came along, humans lived at least a few millennia despite the germs. Sure, a plague here or there really took hold, but we are still here, thriving, improving, and finding cures. That has to count for something, right?

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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