Would You Eat Food That Has Dropped on The Floor?

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

"Ghadi News" - Farah Daou -


Food dropped on the floor, should or should not we eat it?

Discussing this issue might seem weird to the majority of people, since the answer to such a question will absolutely be: “No”. Well, after reading this article people may perhaps think twice about what makes their food contaminated.

Some people know about the five-second rule which states that we can eat food that has dropped on the floor, only if we pick it up immediately. This guideline was discredited by a new study which showed that it takes less than a single second for food to become contaminated once it hits a dirty surface. Yet, here comes Doctor Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University, to tell us that he himself eats food that was on the floor, regardless of how long it was there.


Food Gets Instantaneously Contaminated

In a recent US study, scientists used four different foods (watermelon, bread, bread and butter and gummy sweets) and tested the extent of contamination based on different contact times (less than one second, five, thirty and three-hundred seconds) with four surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet) which were coated with the bacteria Enterobacter aerogenes. Scientists found out that it takes dropped food less than a second, and not five seconds, to pick up any bacteria on the floor, since bacteria can contaminate instantaneously. They also showed that there are factors that contribute to the contamination of food which are the amount of moisture present, type of the surface and length of time the food stayed on the floor. Foods are more contaminated if they are moist, and when they fall on ceramic tile and stainless surfaces, as well as when they stay on the floor for prolonged periods of time. And just in case you are wondering, when the buttered toast falls either butter up or butter down, the level of contamination is similar.


Dr. Carroll Eats Food That Has Dropped on the Floor

Dr. Carroll shared his opinion on this study. Although, he admits that food picks up bacteria as soon as it comes in contact with them, he rejected the guideline of this study. He clarifies his point of view, by referring to many studies that show that household surfaces such as the handle of a fridge, kitchen sink, and kitchen counter harbor much more bacteria than the floor. Nevertheless, he advised people not to panic when they heed such news, but to act responsibly and make judgments based on the relative circumstances.

As per Dr. Carroll, our immune systems are strong enough to fight almost any bacteria that we introduce into our bodies. To support his idea, he referred to a study that was carried out in 1998. The study was performed at the University of Arizona by the microbiology and environmental sciences professor, Charles Gerba, and detected the extent of bacterial contamination of household surfaces and items. The results showed that the kitchen counter is the dirtiest part of the kitchen, followed by the fridge handle and lastly by the kitchen floor. In the same study as well, the misconception of toilet seats being that dirtiest surface in a bathroom was clarified, where the flush handle and the tap on the sink harbored bacteria much more than the toilet seats.


Don’t Panic…

In addition to Dr. Carroll, the applied microbiology professor at Aston University in Birmingham, Dr. Anthony Hilton allows his three young boys to eat toast that drops on the floor. His research showed that around 87% of people either ate food that has dropped on the floor, or would do it. Dr. Hilton says that despite this high percentage, there are no epidemics of floor-acquired illnesses in the United Kingdom. He explains this by his research team’s findings, which showed that despite the rapid transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food, it takes time for bacteria to transfer in enough amounts that cause illnesses. Therefore, he advises people to stick with the five-second rule as long as the surfaces are normally hygienic such as home floors, since other highly contaminated surfaces such as streets necessitate other guidelines.

Therefore, people should not panic. Scientists warn people to “WASH THEIR HANDS” in order to stay healthy and prevent infections.

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