Saturday, 10 October 2009

The 10 Second Rule or Urban Myth ?

I know that this probably seems like an ‘off track’ post however the question still remains. Every time you, I or we drop some food or a tablet,on the floor, we ask ourselves – should we pick it up and swallow it or should we pick it up and bin it ?

There’s an argument that states we only develop immunities by digesting certain germs and bacteria. There’s another health argument that might state ‘is it worth the risk?

Here’s what Wiki has to say about it

File:Five second.png

The five-second rule is a popular polite fiction regarding the eating of food that has fallen to the floor or ground. The origins of the rule are unknown. The substance of the rule is that if food falls on the ground, it may be safely eaten as long as it is picked up within five seconds.

There are many variations on the rule. Sometimes the time limit is modified so that it is known variously as the "three-second rule", "seven-second rule", "thirty-second rule", and "five-minute rule", among others. In some variations, the person picking up the food arbitrarily extends the time limit based on the actual amount of time required to retrieve the food. This also can vary based on the surface on which the food was dropped. In Russia there exists a similar rule: "Promptly picked up is not considered fallen".


Ten-Second Rule Rises in Popularity

Aristocratic society embraced the ten-second rule as a rousing joke at the dinner table. Diners who dropped food had to remain seated for ten seconds while others rose to greet dignitaries. Those who let food fall on their laps had to allow it to rest for a full ten seconds, thus staining fine dinner garments. It was a gentle but humiliating hazing among the elite.

Irish and Italian housemaids brought the ten-second rule home with them during the early 1920’s, and men quickly became enamored with the concept. While the women played by the patrician rules of the privileged and influential, men adopted a more rudimentary and carnal set of standards. If a piece of food fell from a mouth or plate, the man who dropped it had ten seconds to pick it up before someone else in the room had the right to use it as a projectile against him. The uses of the food as a tool of entertainment beyond eating lasted through the 1920’s, but fell out of favor as food became scarce in the 1930’s.

During the Great Depression, time restrictions were dissolved. Additionally, as soon as food became airborne, it was fair game to anybody else in the room. Contact with the floor seldom occurred during this period. During the World War II years, food dropped from mouths and plates immediately became the property of the United States. It was consequently shipped overseas to help the cause.



Well would you?

Good news for slobs and sloppy eaters — that food you dropped on the floor is still safe to eat 30 seconds later.

Student researchers at Connecticut College conducted rigorous experiments in the dining hall and the snack bar to see how long it takes for food dropped on the floor to attract rogue bacteria, the New London College said. Photo Bluemoonart

According to commonly shared principle, dropped food that spends less than five seconds on the floor — the five-second rule — is still safe to eat because rogue bacteria need more time to taint it, reports Daily Business Update.

Life in The Fast Lane

The Five Second Rule

Every week, the Null dissects the most self-evident studies and pointless papers not to hit the headlines. This week, Andrew Impey is eating food off the floor and living to tell the tale.

In a ground-breaking study of the five-second rule, an academic from the University of Wisconsin has cautioned that food dropped in dirty places will get dirtier quicker.

He also staggered his colleagues by claiming that there was no scientific basis to the rule which says that as long as food hasn't been on the floor for more than five seconds it is still okay to eat.

Glenn Chambliss, a bacteriologist, says that if you dropped food in places harbouring nasties like E. coli bacteria, any contamination would happen instantaneously.

In today's sanitized environments, however, chances of dropped foods landing in germ-infested areas are very small. And even when a few stray germs do latch onto food particles, the human body's defence system can easily fight them off.

Obviously, eating food off the floor gets riskier the longer it has been lying there. Moist or damp foods are also more prone to contamination because they make more contact with the ground.

Retrieving food dropped outdoors is also generally safe, says Chambliss, as long as it doesn't fall on potential reservoirs of infection such as piles of animal poo.

In my household we adhere to the five second rule more strongly than we do the laws of thermodynamics.

Geoffrey Harding, Birmingham

This article originally appeared in our regular column on the Daily Telegraph website.

Null Hypothesis

1 comment:

nittineedles said...

My daughter's home harbours three kids (two of which are grubby little boys), two cats and a big dog. I wouldn't eat ANYTHING off of her floor.LOL