Junkfood Science: Are you really going to eat that?

May 09, 2007

Are you really going to eat that?

Have you secretly picked up food you’ve dropped onto the ground or kitchen floor and eaten it anyway? You may be a follower of the “Five-Second” rule. You know the one. It believes that if you drop food on the ground, but pick it up real fast, it’s safe to eat. :)

With all of the scares going around about the safety of our food, you may enjoy this humorous look — but strictly scientific, to be sure — at the evidence behind that old maxim. It was written by food scientist, Harold McGee.

The Five-Second Rule Explored, or How Dirty Is That Bologna?

A COUPLE of weeks ago I saw a new scientific paper from Clemson University that struck me as both pioneering and hilarious. Accompanied by six graphs, two tables and equations whose terms include “bologna” and “carpet,” it’s a thorough microbiological study of the five-second rule....the true pioneer of five-second research was Jillian Clarke, a high-school intern at the University of Illinois in 2003. Ms. Clarke conducted a survey and found that slightly more than half of the men and 70 percent of the women knew of the five-second rule, and many said they followed it.

She did an experiment by contaminating ceramic tiles with E. coli, placing gummy bears and cookies on the tiles for the statutory five seconds, and then analyzing the foods....Clarke was recognized by the Annals of Improbable Research with the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize in public health.

What did she find? Read the answer here.

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