Mr Thursday has long subscribed to the 5 Second Rule. In fact, we’ve subscribed to it fairly liberally. If we drop our orange peel on our own floor, then we’re picking it back up, whether it be 5 seconds or 10, or even 20 (though, I wonder what circumstances would constitute a 20 second gap between Drop and Pick-Up). If we, however, drop said peel into the kitty litter, then it’s dead to us, regardless of duration. This philosophy may be foolish, willfully ignorant, and rambunctiously stupid, but it is, nonetheless, our modus operandi. So back off.
Some news has come to light that cannot be overlooked, though.
In 2003, Jillian Clarke, a high school senior interning at University of Illinois tested the 5 second rule by dropping gummy bears and cookies onto tiles that had been treated with E. Coli. She concluded that once it’s down, it should stay down. Bacteria, apparently, transfers on contact–much the way a hot stove will burn skin on contact, likewise will bacteria infect nearly instantly.
Paul Dawson, a Clemon professor of food science, and the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters tackled the 5 second rule also, and reached the same conclusion as Clarke. Bacteria will infect your lunch in well under 5 seconds.
Enter Connecticut College.
Anne Bernhard and her biology class tested the 5 second rulein “real world” scenarios. While Clarke took a perfectly clean floor and smeared with E. Coli, Bernhard wanted to test what would happen to food dropped onto a regular person’s floor: namely, a floor that has a number of less dangerous bacteria in varying concentrations, randomly displaced on a floor. In short, they dropped food on the cafeteria floor, for varying lengths of time, and then looked at their food under microscopes the next day.
They conclude that it takes “wet food” (they used apple slices) 30 seconds to accumulate bacteria, and “dry food” (Skittles) take a minute.
Now, I don’t have E. Coli all over my kitchen floor, but is the Connecticut College test scientifically useful? Can I assume their results will apply to my home? Someone needs to tell me this now, because I just dropped a pretzel, and I’m running out of time.