Rutgers University professor Donald W. Schaffner and graduate student Robyn C. Miranda recently completed research that began two years ago.  The world has been holding its collective breath waiting for the results.  And here they are.  Food that falls on the floor can pick up bacteria “instantaneously”, proving the 5 Second Rule is a sham.  That tremor you just felt is the founders of Rutgers University trying to find a more comfortable position in their eternal resting places.

Do you want more revelations from the study?  Men are more likely than women to eat food off the floor.  The longer food is on the floor, the more bacteria it will pick up.  Did I say the study took two years?

Our researchers dropped four different foods (watermelon, bread, bread with butter, gummy candy) onto four different surfaces (stainless steel, tile, wood, carpet) from a height of 12.5 centimeters.  But, before they dropped the food, they treated the surfaces with bacteria.

You won’t be surprised to learn that watermelon picked up bacteria the quickest, while gummy candy was slowest.  Bread, with or without butter, picked it up at about the same rate. Tile and stainless steel transferred bacteria at the highest rate.

Will the findings of this study cause me to live my life any differently?  I once won a six pack of beer from a guy in college for eating something on a dare, so I will likely shrug off these results.

I worry more about hair or dust on food when it falls on the floor.

Looking at the food used in the study, I would not eat a cube of watermelon that fell on the floor.  I’m not a barbarian.  If the bread were of high quality, I would scrape off the butter that hit the floor and apply new, pristine butter.  I would certainly eat unbuttered bread or a gummy candy.

With me, you should probably wonder what I would eat from between the couch cushions.  We eat a lot on our couch and apparently miss our mouths frequently.  I wouldn’t think twice about eating an m&m or an almond found in the couch, but part of a cooked potato would give me pause.  Maybe because, with the couch cushion food, the time is not measured in seconds.

My real question for the study authors is what makes someone eat food dropped on the floor?  Is it strictly a male/female thing or are we products of our environment?  Were we breastfed as babies?  What if we’re NASCAR fans? Would throwing the food away mean we’d go hungry?  Would we be punished for spilling ice cream on the new rug?

If I ran into Schaffner and Miranda at a Rutgers mixer, I don’t know which question I would ask them first.  But I know one thing for sure.  I would purposely drop a pretzel or canape in their vicinity to see how they’d react.

What food would you eat off the floor?   Please leave a comment…