Often, while on its way to our mouth, food morsels slide down to thud on the floor. Or while chopping down fruits, a few chunks dart down to land on the kitchen floor. Reflexively, one stoops to pick it up or dispose it off, depending upon the type of food material or the span of contact time between food and surface. Our mind is habitually programmed to approve or reject food. Like, a dropped biscuit is judged risk-free but a dropped cucumber slice is immediately discarded. Also, the time a food piece spends on the floor surface decides your verdict towards its acceptance. So, is five-second rule time a risk-free prototype for the pick-up of a dropped food? Is it alone about the time of contact or the kind of food? If there’s any science behind it, what is it? This article would articulate what-and-why aspects of a dropped morsel.
What governs five-second rule?
The notion that time span of intimacy between the food morsel and the surface determines the spoilage of the wedge. Higher the time, higher the bacterial invasion! However, the veritable fact is that the food chunk is instantly spoiled as it comes in contact with a contaminated surface, regardless of the duration of contact. Also, moisture content has a pivotal role to play in any food piece’s spoilage. For example- a chunk of any fallen apple -slice would support much higher bacterial population than a morsel of any cracker.
Surface-type too facilitates the journey of microbes from the surface of any food chunk. Non-absorbent surfaces like steel and tile easily unload the bacteria species off their surface and make their way into the food structure. Like, carpet and wooden surface exhibited less transferal of bacteria, compared to a steel surface.
The assumption that kitchen floor host more germ population than any other surfaces in house is a mistaken belief. The study at Indiana University had concluded that most of the surfaces human minds perceive as safe are actually more infested than kitchen-floor.
The study, backed with figures and calculations, reveals that a clean dish-apparently clean-nurtured maximum count of microbes. Bacterial colonies per square inch on different surfaces were examined and the colony count was done for each. To this, the kitchen floor accounted for 2.75 colonies per square inch, while the figures were doubled on the handle of the refrigerator, that is, 5.37 colonies per inch.
We don’t realise but most of us delude ourselves based on our general perceptions. What our mind decrypt as clean is never clean. Rather, dirtiest. Cell phone, which comes in contact with don’t-know-how-many surfaces-bag, table, pocket and so on, is read as clean enough by our mind but is awfully loaded with microbes. Ironically, a cell phone is known to sustain more microbial load than a toilet seat does.
We sometimes respond in a way our past experiences guide us to. Sometimes, the moist food materials are washed under the tap and not rejected. Sometimes, it is a gender-based psychology. A woman may follow five-second-rule and is likely to chew up a dropped morsel, while a man may not do the same.
Conclusively, are we really supposed to eat any food material off the floor? Scientifically, it’s a candid no. for germ transfer from surface to food is in a jiffy and is literally independent of the time span. A morsel’s touch on the surface should be plausible enough for us to refrain from the food off the floor. Considering the omnipresence of bacteria all around, please do away with the idea of food wastage when it comes to acceptance of a dropped food material. Don’t waste food but never at the cost of food-borne illnesses.