Cleveland, OH

Here's what experts from Cleveland Clinic says about eating dropped food

Terrence Jacobs

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CLEVELAND, OH - You just bought your favorite snacks, when suddenly it slipped from your hand onto the floor. You pick it up cause you know the 5-second rule, but will you still eat it?

Dietitian from Cleveland Clinics, Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD, has something to say about the famous rule.

The concept of the 5-second rule is, the less time the food spends on the floor the fewer bacteria it picks up. Food that lands on the floor will pick up some bacteria even if it's just 1 second, but will the contamination be enough to give you gastric problems?

According to a 2016 study published in an American Society for Microbiology journal, the 5-second rule is an oversimplification of what happens regarding bacteria transfer from the surface to food. This involves a lot of variables like the type of food and surface, time is just one part of the equation.

Factor like moistness matter a lot when it comes to food absorbing bacteria. A juicy slice of watermelon or sticky food will serve as a bacteria sponge once it made contact with the floor. Expect it to potentially soak up nastiness such as E. coli and staph infection.

A hard biscuit or chips, however, is less of a worry as this type of food doesn't stick too much and is less absorbing.

On the surface factor, carpet is safer than tile or wood flooring, for a pick-it-up-and-eat move as the fibers hold fewer bacteria. You should consider the location too like it is better to eat something from your living room carpet than a high-traffic gas station restroom.

Again, back to the main question, Should you eat dropped food or just let it and move on? Researchers come down on both sides of the debate. But you should consider this, it is estimated 48 million Americans will get sick from a foodborne disease this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 130,000 will be hospitalized. Roughly 3,000 will die.

That is something to think about before you decide to eat your sandy doughnut.

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