We have all heard the saying “If a tree falls in the middle of the woods, does it make a sound?” What the heck does that even mean and why do people try to pretend that they are deep enough to grasp it?
Unlike the tree question, there is less thinking involved when one tries to understand the common phrase, “The Five-Second Rule” and what it pertains to. When faced with a dilemma of a fallen piece of food making contact with the floor and negotiating with your common sense on whether or not you should make the save and shove it in your mouth, think twice. “The Five-Second Rule probably should become the Zero-Second Rule,” said Dr. Roy M. Gulick who is the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases (ID) at Weill Cornell Medical College.
This is a situation that people are faced with at some point in their lives and may be more of a social reaction to those around you and what we think of as “normal”. A survey conducted in 2003 by Jillian Clarke from the University of Illinois, found that 56% of men and 70% of women were aware of the rule. In her study of this topic, it was also confirmed that a “variety of foods were significantly contaminated by even brief exposure to a tile inoculated with E. coli, (Escherichia coli).”
Our UFE team decided to run our own survey to find out if Clarke’s numbers changed over the past 9 years. We asked two questions; “Are you aware of the “Five-Second Rule?” and “do you practice it?” and here is what our numbers say. Out of the men polled, 64% said that they are aware of the rule and practiced it. There were 29% of men who said that the rule would only be applied under certain situations. Only 7% of men claimed to know about the rule, but did not practice it.
One of our UFE reps said “some men admit that they use a 10 second rule and that it all depends on the type of food”. I suppose this makes sense; I would be more inclined to pick up a potato chip as opposed to scooping up an ice cream cone with my bare hands and getting a sugar high along with lord knows what.
We admit that when we first saw Clarke’s numbers, we thought it was crazy the women were more aware of it than men. Interestingly enough, woman practice it more and were very vocal about it. A staggering 83% of women openly admit that they practice the rule, with one woman stating “God made dirt, dirt can’t hurt”. Once again, situational stances to the rule made up 16% of woman and only 1% of women denied practicing the rule, but did claim to be aware of the rule.
So why are there adjusted situations to this rule? It seems that a study done in 2006 showed that wood, tiles, and nylon carpet had bacteria still thriving after twenty-eight days of exposure under dry conditions. If you are a fan of the television show “Myth Busters”, you may have seen the rule tested in their segment with them coming to the conclusion that “there was no significant difference in the number of bacteria collected from 2 seconds exposure as there was from 6 seconds exposure. The moisture, surface geometry, and the location the food item was dropped on did, however, affect the number of bacteria”.
To add to this point, a related study of surface exposure was conducted by Clemson University researchers who concluded that harder surfaces such as wood and tile transferred a greater amount of bacteria than carpets transferred. Although the amount of bacteria differed, all three surfaces spread bacteria instantaneously once contact was made and “The Five-Second Rule” was tarnished.
So the moral or the story is, “The Five-Second Rule” is just like the start of the 2012 NFL season…anything goes and the rules are either adjusted or ignored. Eventually however, someone could get something they didn’t bargain for, so enjoy that ice cream cone.