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‘Five-second rule’ leaves bad taste in the mouth

  • Published Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at 7:33 a.m.

We’ve never abided by the “five-second rule,” the rule that says if food hasn’t been on the floor longer than five seconds it’s safe to eat. We use a slide rule. We go from five to 10, 15 seconds, or even the day after.

If it’s chocolate, there is no time limit. Pick it up and have a look.

As for a recognizable bit of a cookie, sometimes it’s easier to pop it in your mouth than walk to the trash can. Oh, don’t tell me you’ve never done it. I’m smarter than that. Remember, I use a slide rule.

There is a direct correlation between willingness to eat something that has fallen on the floor and the desirability of the food. I’ve yet to see a kid scream, “Five-second rule!” when cauliflower hits the floor. Right now, I could probably assemble an entire vegetable medley with bits and pieces the grandbabies have left under the kitchen table.

Despite the obvious — that food on the floor will pick up germs — researchers at San Diego State University, partnering with Clorox, conducted a study on the “five-second rule” and found it to be bogus.

A study always implies government funds somewhere. Such a shame. I wish they would have called. I could have saved them a lot of time and money. Of course the “five-second rule” is bogus. But it is a way to build immunity.

The most interesting finding from the study was that the dirtiest surface is not the bare floor or the carpet, but the countertop. That’s really disgusting, especially when you consider how much food we eat off our countertops.

In the interest of saving researchers’ time and preventing other unnecessary studies, let’s examine some other common myths.

•  “If you cross your eyes, they’ll stick that way.” Not true. Of course, if some research team wants to assemble thousands of 7-year-old children to test it, I’d love to watch.

•  “Scaring someone will stop the hiccups.” It will not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to try.

•  “You can’t make taffy on a humid day.” Actually, that one does have some truth to it, although I’d feel better if a team at Harvard put it to the test.

•  “It’s OK to double dip in the chip dip.” Maybe at the frat house, but not at this house. You’re welcome to eat a chip off the floor, but don’t double dip with it.

•  “Throwing salt over your shoulder brings you good luck.” No it doesn’t; it just means you have to sweep the floor.

•  “The best way to tell if pasta is done is to throw it against the wall.” Not true. The best way to tell if pasta is done is to throw it on the floor and see if anybody eats it in five seconds.

I hope this has been of service to university research teams everywhere.

Send my honorary degree in care of my e-mail.

Lori Borgman writes a column for McClatchy-Tribune.

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