Features Hit-Or-Miss

Science Says ‘The Five-Second Rule’ Is OK, But Is It Really?

We’ve all heard someone shout, “Five-Second Rule!” as they witness part of their meal succumb to gravity and plummet to the floor below.

For decades, science has been trying to prove the Five-Second Rule exists. In 2003, a student participating in Hans Blaschek’s University of Illinois lab at the University of Illinois School of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Science reported that 70 percent of women and 56 percent of men were at least “familiar” with the Five-Second Rule.

Yet, we should know, regardless of how long food ends up on the floor, there’s going to be germs. So, why has this rule — which we use to dismiss the potential danger caused by ingesting some strain of harmful bacteria — existed for so long, and do we really think it’s true?


Science says, yes we do — and it actually might work.

A recent Rutgers University study, published in the American Society For Applied and Environmental Microbiology in September 2016 could prove why this unsanitary method of food consumption has become so widely recognized.

The study revealed that contamination rates varied depending on the food’s level of moisture and duration of contact with the surface. Rutgers University professor, Dr. Donald W. Schaffner, who is also an Extension Specialist in Food Science, authored the study.

Dr. Schaffner’s study was conducted by dropping sliced watermelon, slices of non buttered and buttered bread, and pieces of gummy candy onto stainless steel, tile, wood and carpet surfaces. After being dropped, the food was left on the surface for time intervals between less than one second up to 300 seconds

Carpet, according to the study, was the least conducive for bacteria.

“Carpet has very low transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel, whereas transfer from wood is more variable. Dr. Schaffner said in a press release. “The topography of the surface and food seem to play an important role in bacterial transfer.”

To no surprise, Dr. Schaffner found that all food will become contaminated instantly. So, even though the Five-Second Rule will not save you from contamination, there is a decreased risk depending on the surface and a food’s water content.

So, the risk of contamination is scientifically proven to be less if you drop (and eat) a Pop Tart off the counter, versus scooping up your entire Chipotle Burrito Bowl from the floor — in five seconds and under.

This seems obvious, but gives the Five-Second Rule some legitimate hypothetical value.

Still, why do we continue to rationalize this type of risk when it comes to our food? Well, according to a food safety expert, it can depend on the type of food we eat, and the culture we live in.

“We’re familiar with eating foods that have been highly processed, and understand that it’s not natural,” Dr. Douglas Powell, a former food safety professor and publisher of the website BarfBlog, said in an interview with FOODBEAST.

“When food falls on the floor, we already know it’s not natural, so we disregard the risk. We just need to be smart enough to know that everything has different levels of sanitation.”

Culinary preferences change with the culture as well. In some cultures, food is consumed raw, without question, or fear of contamination.

Dr. Powell added, even though there are existing scientific studies dedicated to the Five-Second Rule — that prove its legitimacy — it does not mean it should become a standard practice.

From a food safety perspective, Dr. Powell estimates that a lot of people who abide by the Five-Second Rule may not consider the realistic dangers of contaminative stains of bacteria, such as E. Coli and Salmonella.

“It’s easy to underestimate the genetic susceptibility we have to deadly bacteria we ingest.”

Dr. Powell believes risk is a part of reality. Even something as simple as eating food off the floor has consequences. He credits the Rutgers research as legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific analysis.

However, Powell added, “Academics should not be to preach, but to provide information,” thus stressing the role of academic studies is to prove a hypothesis and make discoveries.

Fast Food

E. Coli Hits Chipotle Restaurants In SIX States, Should We Be Worried?


A few weeks ago, we wrote that more than 43 Chipotle locations were closed down due to an E. coli scare. While the outbreak was only limited to a two-state region, the company closed all the surrounding restaurants just to play things safe. Those restaurants have since reopened. Unfortunately, the E. coli has now expanded to six states.

There have now been reported cases in Minnesota, Ohio, New York and California with Washington and Oregon being the two original states.

Six states means its more than just one unclean kitchen. Currently, there’s an ongoing investigation to figure out the specific food item that’s connected to the E. coli.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 45 people have been infected and 43 of those infected said they had eaten at Chipotle within the week they were sick. The CDC says that the infection began within the window of Oct. 19 to Nov. 8.

Luckily, there have been no deaths.

A spokesman for Chipotle said that the company doesn’t believe it’s necessary right now to close any of the restaurants and is currently not aware of any employees that have become ill. They are, however, taking extreme measures to maintain a healthy and clean environment for preparing food.

Kind of makes us nervous for our next Chipotle visit, though.

Photo: Google Maps


How Salmonella Poisoning Just Cost This Restaurant $11 Million


A federal judge is ordering a restaurant to pay $11.4 million to a man who got food poisoning while dining at the establishment. In 2010, a Nebraska man contracted salmonella from eating at an Old Country Buffet during a dinner with his wife.

KGAB reports that U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl awarded the couple the damages after writing of the husband’s numerous surgeries and procedures after dining at the buffet in Casper, NE.

Skavdahl states that Christopher Gage is in daily pain and cannot eat or drink water without throwing up. The majority of his meals end in him vomiting. Gage has also lost his mobility and his cognitive functioning has been significantly impacted.

Damages to Gage include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, dehydration, acute kidney failure, sepsis, acute lactic acidosis, anemia, thromocytophenia and partial fibrillation.

A day after Gage got sick, the Laramie County Health Department cited the restaurant for numerous health code violations.

Old Country Buffet is operated by Ovation Brands who could not be reached for comments.



Scientists Think They’ve Cracked UN-MELTABLE Ice Cream


Ice cream, while delicious, can be super messy on a sunny day. The life span of a decent cone from the scoop to your hand isn’t very long. Luckily, scientists are working hard to develop an ice cream that won’t melt.

A team of U.K. researchers from the universities of Dundee and Edinburgh have been growing a protein in bacteria that’s designed to prevent ice cream from melting.

Using a molecule they’re calling BslA, air bubbles and fat droplets are stuck to water creating an impenetrable mass. This means ice cream can stay frozen in the sun.

The team appears to be happy with the results, so far, but they’re still a while away. According to Telegraph it’ll be three years before this un-meltable ice cream will be ready to sell to the public.

When that day comes, you bet we’ll be taking photos without fear of melted ice cream.



New York Restaurants Must Now FREEZE Fish Before Serving It Raw


New York City will now face a new rule when it comes to serving raw fish. The New York Times reports, regardless of how fresh the fish is, restaurants must freeze it for an extended period of time in order to prevent bacteria and parasites.

While most places are already doing this as a precaution, the process is now law. Outbreaks of salmonella have caused major concerns in the past few years. The new rule will put those fears to ease among consumers who enjoy eating raw fish.

Starting in August, fish must be kept frozen anywhere from 15 hours to an entire week depending on the restaurants’ freezer temperature. Certain seafoods like shellfish and farm-raised fish, however, are exempt from the freezing laws.



This Drinkable Book Can Purify Contaminated Water Through Its Pages


The earliest food hack known to man was probably how to purify water. If you didn’t know how to make fire, you’d have to MacGuyver some sort of filter for your water to keep that woolly mammoth poop out. Luckily, we’ve advanced a tad bit since then and have developed some pretty cool filters for water. The Drinkable Book, for example.

Each page of the Drinkable Book acts as a water filtration device. The pages contain microscopic particles of Silver Nitrate, which helps kill about 99 percent of the contaminated bacteria as the water passes through. The pages of the book also contain text that explains basic safety skills (keeping water away from trash and feces) that help maintain a clean water supply. It costs only a few cents to produce each page and an entire book could provide a person with up to 4 years of drinkable water, with each page lasting 30 days.

While this sounds like both a practical and novel product, I can definitely see this become a necessity should (God forbid) the zombies take over. I’ll take 10, please.

H/T Ad Week


Actual Franken-Foods: The Top Five Things We Love to Eat While Still Alive

I’m not evolved enough to say I can watch a whole episode of Bizzare Foods without squirming. But plenty of people love eating fried ants like popcorn, with the more adventurous eating them while still alive and slightly “chilled.” There’s definitely something to be said of those of us who can devour a a plate of squirming maggots without blinking an eye. That being said, I’d er, definitely recommend giving “living food” a shot. Maybe you could even start with one of these LFs compiled by the guys at Thrillist. Just don’t be surprised if your dinner tries to fight back.




There’s a restaurant in Denmark that serves a $300 salad topped with chilled ants and crème fraîche, because apparently the labor of going outside and digging some up yourself is worth the extra $299.99.


Casu Marzu


AKA the maggot cheese, made by allowing flies to land and hatch eggs inside it as the cheese ages. Yummy?




Apparently these guys die once you pop the shell open, so I’m not entirely sure how you can eat a living one. You can, however, get a pretty damn recently-dead or dying one, you sick sadist you.




Try not to choke while you’re sucking down this Korean dish of still-squirming octopus tentacles. Sh*t is killer.




Lastly, let’s never mind the fact that this thing looks creepy AF and focus on its being “live sashimi.” As in, you chop it up while it’s still flapping around. Poor Nemo.


Check out the rest of the list at Thrillist.


Science Makes Groundbreaking Discovery that Beer Pong Violates the 5-Second Rule


Thank goodness for rocket scientists — without them we may have never discovered that the seemingly innocuous game of beer pong is a cesspool teeming with bacteria. And by “rocket scientists” we mean a group of Clemson University student researchers who ran around their campus last fall, snatched beer pong balls during parties and tested them for signs of contamination.

If the term “Beer Pong” sounds like a drunkard’s attempt to create a legitimate sport (you’re right) or you’ve been out of college for a minute, here’s a refresher: Beer Pong is played by throwing ping pong balls across a folding banquet table and landing them into red Solo cups filled with beer (usually of the aged cat piss Bud variety). Whenever a ball lands in a cup, the opponent must drink said cat piss and proceed to get properly sloshed.

Of course, those ping pong balls always find their way under dusty couches, sticky frat house floors and the deep recesses of your typical dorm room. That being said, it’s a shocker that the students found salmonella, listeria, E. coli and staph on the ping pong balls they collected, their study showing a “high level of bacteria transferred to the beer when balls went into cups.”

Although, before you start bringing Lysol to every house party, know that ninety percent of bacteria is usually harmless. At least, that’s according to Clemson food science professor Paul Dawson, who then proceeds to remind us that “by virtue of sheer numbers, you’re taking a chance of getting sick.”

Well, whaddya know ’bout that? Take this as a friendly reminder to use water instead of actual beer, duh, and to take swigs from your own individual drinks. That or #YOLO. Sorry, that was customary.

H/T Huffpo + PicThx Q13Fox