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The five-second food rule
Old 06-03-2007, 03:46 PM   #1
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The five-second food rule

In a world where we have to worry about idiots getting on planes with TB and other communicable diseases, I was happy to read about a study that verified the 5 second rule that people have always joked about: that it's safe to eat something that is dropped on the floor if it's five seconds or under. Turns out it's okay for even six times that amount. Whew! One less worry.

Here's the article:

A pair of biology seniors at Connecticut College decided to test the oft-cited maxim that food that sits less than five seconds on a floor remains safe to eat.

They used a well-traveled section of the college cafeteria; apple slices "because they were free," and Skittles, because there's an assumption that dry food is less susceptible to contamination, said researcher Molly Goettsche.

To simulate the real world, food was dropped off the edge of a cafeteria table. One pair of edibles sat on the floor for five seconds; others for 10, 30, 60 seconds; and, finally, for five minutes. They repeated the experiment under the supervision of a biology professor.

P O L L


Would you eat something that sat on the floor for more than five seconds?


Yes, I'm not picky
No, that's gross!
Depends on the food


The results: No bacteria were found on any food left on the floor for up to half a minute. Apple slices and Skittles both got germy after a minute (although one Skittle took five minutes).

Goettsche, 23, and heading for a career in bio tech market research, said she won't eat from a floor despite their findings.

"Use your discretion," she advised. "I don't want to be responsible for changing the five-second rule to the 30-second rule."
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Old 06-03-2007, 03:57 PM   #2
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I have learned from experience that you can eat virtually anything that walks, crawls, swims or flies, and if you get hungry enough, you will -- 5 second rule be damned.
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Old 06-03-2007, 05:42 PM   #3
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Mythbusters results:

The Five Second Rule

Myth: if you pick up a piece of food that has fallen on the floor before five seconds is up, no bacteria will get on it
See also: NYTimes article on Clemson University Five-Second Rule study, "The Five-Second Rule Explored, or How Dirty Is That Bologna?"
Test 1: MythBusters HQ samples

Jamie and Adam used contact plates to test various locations in the MythBusters shop for bacteria. Each contact plate was placed on the floor for five seconds and labelled with the location. They incubated the contact plates for 24 hours and then counted the number of bacteria on them.
They got different results from locations that were adjacent to each other, so they decided that it would be important to eliminate location as a variable in the test..
Mini-myth: Toilet seat is the cleanest spot in the house

While they were collecting samples around the shop, Adam also placed a contact plate on the toilet seat for comparison. It did have less bacteria colonies than the other samples, though it seems that the other samples were all collected from the floor.
Test 2: Evenly contaminated surface

In order to eliminate location as a variable they created some evenly contaminated surfaces with beef broth. They dropped wet food (pastrami) and dry food (cracker) onto the surface for two and six seconds. They also did a control sample for comparison.
The wet pastrami picked up more bacteria than the dry crackers, but there wasn't a discernable difference between the two-second and six-second samples. They would need to do more testing to single out time as a factor in the test.
Jamie: "I don't think the results were all that conclusive."
Mini-myth: Dog mouths are cleaner than human mouths

Adam and Lulu the Dog both licked a contact plate. After incubating the samples, the dog's sample had less bacteria colonies than Adam's.
Adam: "I don't eat my own poo"
According to LiveScience: "Despite a habit of licking things no human would dare, Fido's mouth is often touted as scientifically more sterile. Truth is, oral bacteria are so species-specific that one can't be considered cleaner than the other, just different."
Test 3: Contact plates on evenly contaminated surface

They decide to eliminate food as a variable in the test and instead just apply the contact plates to the beef brothed surface for two seconds and six seconds. Both showed tremendous amounts of bacteria with no real difference based on time.
They found that the amount of bacteria that was picked up depended on the moisture of food, the surface geometry of food, and the location that it was dropped on, but there was no correlation to the amount of time it was dropped.
mythbusted
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Old 06-03-2007, 06:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
(although one Skittle took five minutes)
Which color?
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:47 PM   #5
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Can I say right now that I am very proud to have attended Clemson University, where such vital research is going on--I thought all the research there involved beer bongs...whew!
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Old 06-03-2007, 07:54 PM   #6
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I never heard of the "five second food rule" till recently. Media frenzy. It doesn't make sense to me. Sounds just like some schmuck rationalizing being clumsy and dropping stuff. "If you can pick it up quick enough, then no harm done, so dropping it was fine".
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:29 PM   #7
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The 5 second rule.....Bah-Humbug!!

It's not that I'm really sloppy or clumsy, but, hey, sometimes gravity rules! I've made it this far in life and haven't been over-thrown by germs yet. If it hits the floor and I want it, I eat it! If I'm outside and it hits the ground, and I can brush the excess dirt, sand, or other debris off of it.....what the heck, it hasn't killed me yet!

If I'm out in the garden picking veggies or fruit, I'll wipe the excess dirt off of it, and gobble it down. So what's the big diff if some other food item succumbs to gravitational pull?! So heck yeah I'll eat something that hit the floor!!! Germs be d*mned!
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:40 PM   #8
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I follow the 'common sense' rule. If I drop food on a dirty floor I toss it. It's no biggie, I can afford more food. What I can't afford is to get sick from eating food that has fallen onto the floor!!!


PS: I don't eat food from the garbage can either.
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:26 PM   #9
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PS: I don't eat food from the garbage can either.
Once when I was staying at a commune in southern California, we "dumpster jumped" just about every night, and came up with some pretty good stuff. Especially the donuts in the local convenience store's dumpster! Mmmmm! Breakfast!!! :
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Old 06-04-2007, 12:15 AM   #10
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Once when I was staying at a commune in southern California, we "dumpster jumped" just about every night, and came up with some pretty good stuff. Especially the donuts in the local convenience store's dumpster! Mmmmm! Breakfast!!! :
That's what makes this world so great, different strokes for different folks.

BTW, You couldn't pay me enough to dumpster dive.
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Old 06-04-2007, 07:40 AM   #11
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That's what makes this world so great, different strokes for different folks.

BTW, You couldn't pay me enough to dumpster dive.

Hell, you might run into JG...
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Old 06-04-2007, 08:24 AM   #12
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The 5-second rule works in my house! However, I can't imagine I would eat food that fell on the floor of a college cafeteria...
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Old 06-04-2007, 08:34 AM   #13
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That's what makes this world so great, different strokes for different folks.

BTW, You couldn't pay me enough to dumpster dive.
But it is the ultimate in LBYM!
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