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The Five Second Rule

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.

More studies of the bleedin' obvious here or maybe you'd prefer:

Everyone's favourite - Top Tens
Some crazy mags - Peculiar Periodicals
What are you afraid of? - Phunny Phobias
How clever are you? Spoof or Troof
I'm bored at work - End of the week timewasters

Your Say

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.
Image: Zeth Lorenzo

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09 Apr 2010
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