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5-Second Rule Debunked [moved from Not About Food board]

LindaWhit May 18, 2007 08:35 AM

Good news, 'hounds! That bit of excellent food that you might have dropped on the floor? It's still good to eat 30 seconds later. At least for college students. :-)


(I also found it interesting that the article writer used the word "chowhound".)

  1. b
    Bostonbob3 May 18, 2007 12:19 PM

    LindaWhit, the use of "Chowhound" by the Globe doesn't surprise me at all. I'm convinced they get any relevant food news they publish from right here.

    Which is fine, I guess. Just saying.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bostonbob3
      LindaWhit May 18, 2007 12:41 PM

      Doesn't surprise me either, although I hadn't seen it used by a Globe writer except when referring to Chowhound.com.

      1. re: LindaWhit
        aurora50 May 18, 2007 12:47 PM

        Ha! Reminds me of the time I dropped my deep-fried burrito on the car floor at the drive-in (remember them???) when I was a kid. I picked it up, dusted it off, and went right to it, and I'm still here.

        1. re: LindaWhit
          Bostonbob3 May 18, 2007 12:53 PM

          Exactly. They DON'T reference the site. Yet somehow, someway, one day after reading a post here about an obscure Peruvian cervicharia located in a Dorchester garage, the Globe breaks an exclusive.

          (That's just a ficticious example, BTW. If there actually were a Peruvian cervicharia in a Dorcester garage, I'd be all over it.)

      2. m
        mojoeater May 18, 2007 12:45 PM

        I hate to waste food and have always gone with more of a 30 second rule. I knew I was right!

        5 Replies
        1. re: mojoeater
          Bostonbob3 May 18, 2007 12:49 PM

          No kidding. When I was in college, I'd eat week-old pizza that was lying on the kitchen floor by the trash can.

          In fact, I think it should be called the one-week rule. Unless it's shellfish.

          1. re: Bostonbob3
            mojoeater May 18, 2007 12:51 PM

            I used to keep my pizza in the microwave for days. Not to reheat it, but to keep the bugs off it. I did that with fast food burgers, too.

            1. re: mojoeater
              Bostonbob3 May 18, 2007 12:58 PM

              Heh! When I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years, I did the same thing. Mainly because the roaches had eaten their way through the refrigerator's rubber gasket and invaded the inside.

              The microwave was the only secure spot.

              Although in retrospect, I guess I could have had maintenance replace the gasket. Or purchased tupperware.

              Oh well.

              1. re: Bostonbob3
                mojoeater May 18, 2007 01:07 PM

                I just liked the stuff room temp. Still am not a fan of nuked pizza.

                1. re: mojoeater
                  Bostonbob3 May 18, 2007 01:46 PM

                  Oh God no. I never nuke bread/dough of any kind.

                  It was just for pizza protection. In Hawaii (or maybe just in that apartment building for all I know), the roaches were rampant.

        2. honkman May 18, 2007 04:33 PM


          This work also got the Ig nobel prize in 2004 in public health


          1. MC Slim JB May 19, 2007 06:13 AM

            Chowhound the generic term preceded chowhound.com. Most etymologies I've seen trace its origins to the 1940s.

            It sure looks to me like the research that honkman cites (saying that dropped food picks up bacteria in under five seconds) is more rigorous and credible than the student research (saying it takes at least 30 seconds) reported in The Globe.

            I don't spend a lot of time worrying about food-borne illness, but it seems prudent to minimize risks where it's easy to (throw out the dropped Oreo), and roll the dice where the return is higher, e.g., raw seafood, steak tartare, raw-egg cocktails, etc.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB
              Humbucker May 21, 2007 09:39 AM

              Whoa! You'd consider eating dropped steak tartare? I wouldn't do that and I come from a family where we leave pots of soup out unrefrigerated for a week or longer. I would be much more likely to eat a dropped Oreo if the floor seemed clean on cursory inspection.

              1. re: Humbucker
                MC Slim JB May 21, 2007 11:30 AM

                Goodness: I'm not saying, "Only eat dropped food if it's expensive." Quite the opposite: I'm saying, "I place more credence in the study that says dropped food picks up bacteria quickly than the one that says otherwise, so always throw dropped food out."

                But I do think it's worth taking a chance on food-borne illness with raw foods, but only those made from quality ingredients that have been handled properly. Sorry if I wasn't clear there! Don't eat the dropped steak tartare, I beg you!

                But do take a chance on quality sushi, ceviche, raw bar, steak tartare, etc. And try a raw egg cocktail from a place like Boston's No. 9 Park, Green Street, or Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks. They're worth the slim chance of salmonella. I expect they're using quality eggs produced with lower-risk methods, and I'm hopeful (without any scientific evidence to back it up) that the alcohol is killing some of those bugs.

                1. re: Humbucker
                  mojoeater May 22, 2007 10:29 AM

                  I'd eat both if they were dropped in my kitchen, but would probably rinse off the meat.

              2. Davwud May 22, 2007 02:35 PM

                This rule was addressed on Mythbusters a few years back.

                In general, the drier the food, the safer it is to eat off the floor. Makes sense.

                They also determined that time wasn't a factor. It picked up all it's bacteria almost immediately.


                1. s
                  swsidejim May 22, 2007 02:44 PM

                  It seems some people responding think it is ok if the food is dropped in their own kitchen, I wonder how these people feel when the "5 second rule", is utilized in a restaurant..?

                  For those who dont believe it happens ask someone who has cooked for a living if it has or not.. Upscale, fast food, or greasy spoon... it happens.

                  When I cooked for a living I never did it ( i wouldnt serve food I wouldnt eat myself), but I saw plenty a fellow line cook do it...

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