I have been laid up, sick as a dog, for the past few days, having fallen foul to a nasty bout of food poisoning.
I am normally super fastidious when it comes to food sell-by dates – comestibles binned at soon as a the clock strikes midnight of the day of expiry – and hygiene – washing my hands as religiously as a person with OCD. But against all by better judgment, I threw caution to the wind at the weekend when I attended a food festival.
The event had a chilli theme so I thought I’d be safe, the explosive heat from a scotch bonnet dip or a Carolina Reaper chutney presumably fending off any nearby lurking bug.
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I drifted from one stand to another, eager to sample the delicious array of foods. I waited my turn, watched as the people in front of me fished around in the bowls of smashed-up crackers and shredded tortilla for the perfect sized piece ready to dip into the neatly arranged jars oozing with Scoville Scale relishes, jams, salsas and sauces.
I winced as a few of them disgustingly double-dipped – re-used the same piece of cracker to enjoy a second scoop – taking note of the jars to avoid on that particular stall. It is a social no-no outed in a classic episode of Seinfeld in the early 1990s.
However, ignoring the alarm bells ringing loudly in my head, warning me that all the jars must have been scooped by a greedy double-dipper at some point in the day, I plunged in.
Bowl after bowl, dip after dip, I eagerly got my fill of chilli-flavoured samples. And then, the rumble in the jungle began. I will not go in to details but just to say Portaloos are not the ideal place to have a Bridesmaids movie moment.
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My episode comes as this week scientists have announced that double-dipping is not simply a matter of modern etiquette but that it spreads germs. Harvard University doctor Robert Shmerling has reviewed a study in which food scientists analysed how much bacteria was on a crisp before and after double-dips. He found that contamination soared, with three to six dips of the nibbled cracker transferring about 10,000 bacteria from the mouth to the dip.
Heaven only knows how many tens of thousands of the nasty little critters have taken a sojourn in my digestive tract over the past couple of days.
So to all you dirty, disgusting double dippers out there: Please don’t!