The Five Second Rule? Make It 30 … Plus

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Cookie on the carpet. (credit: Dr Dave Hnida)

Cookie on the carpet. (credit: Dr Dave Hnida)

Dr. Dave Hnida By Dr. Dave Hnida
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Okay, when is the last time you dropped something sumptuous on the floor, and wondered “Is This Okay To Eat? I’ve Hear I’ve Got FIVE SECONDS Before It’s Off Limits. (Especially If No One Sees Me.)”

If you haven’t, you’re in a small group.

A super-sized 87% of people have said they have at least thought about it. And another 81% have done a very slow one-Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc, as they reach and make the transfer from floor to mouth within the alloted timeframe.

Well, today comes some good news for the majority. At least, kinda, possibly, perhaps, good news.

Some research was done at the University of Aston which look at foods such as: toast, pasta, cookies, and sticky candy — and how much of a germ sponges these foods are when they hit carpets, laminates, or tile.

The good news: the researchers said — hey,  that 5 seconds is a little too restrictive. Heck, you can go up to 30 seconds, if not more, before food becomes the subject of a serious bacterial invasion.

As you might expect, the moister the food, the more quickly germs attached themselves for the ride. As for surfaces, carpets were less likely to transfer nasties onto your food.

Now comes the bad news. The study was not actually published in an official scientific journal where it was analyzed for accuracy, methodology and conclusions.

And unscientifically, they didn’t answer what I think is a major question: what if you wipe off the food, say, on your jeans?

So all in all, this study may really be a bunch of bunk. Or maybe not. I guess it depends on your hunger … and skill at “germ lotto.”

Personally, I think the most important factor may not be time, but tracking.

In other words, do you really know what you stepped in before coming into your home? Remember, E. Coli has resilient ability to survive (and make you sick).

(Speaking of eating anything, in a totally make-believe study, researchers asked men how much time they would allow if a piece of bacon hit the floor. Three seconds? Thirty seconds? Thirty days? The answer: infinite — especially if it was a nice, crisp piece.)

All in all, I would think twice before playing with your mental stopwatch after a food mishap. I’m not sure what the Aston dudes would eat if they dropped something on a dirty floor. I’d like to know … and watch.

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