business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Gizmodo.com has a story suggesting that the popular "five second rule" - which maintains that one can eat anything dropped on the floor if one picks it up within five seconds - really has no basis in fact.

Go figure.

"The most important thing to remember about the world around you is that everything is covered in germs, at all times," the story says. "There are an estimated 100 billion in your mouth right now, another 100 trillion living in your digestive tract. As many as 25,000 germs crowd onto every square inch of your cell phone, though, and another 7.2 billion call your kitchen sponge home ... It doesn't take much for food-borne pathogens like E. coli and salmonella to infect your gut and wreak havoc on your bowels. In fact, fewer than 100 E. coli and less than 10 salmonella bacteria constitute an infectious dose."

There apparently are numerous studies refuting the five-second rule, including one done by researchers at Clemson University, where they "assembled and sterilized a variety of surface samples—tile, wood and nylon carpet—then coated them with Salmonella (with a density of several million bacteria per sq. cm) in order to not only see how long the organisms survived on each but also see how effectively they could hop on a slice of bread or bologna.

"The Clemson findings suggest that we should rename it the "zero second rule" because even after being left to dry for four weeks on the surfaces, the Salmonella were onto the bologna sandwich like white on rice in a glass of milk in a snowstorm in under a second. Leave the meat and bread there for five seconds, and the food picked up 150 to 8,000 bacteria. Leave it for a minute and the number increases tenfold. Tile and carpet reportedly gave up the most microorganisms, while wood transferred slightly fewer."

To be honest, though, there's only one thing that really bothers me about this conclusion:

I always thought it was the fifteen second rule.

It's been an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: