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T. GAMBLE: Study examines sticky food quandary

OPINION: The only certain thing is not death or taxes, it is studying what often is the obvious

T. Gamble

T. Gamble

In America today there is one thing that’s certain. Whatever exists has been studied by some organization, government agency, university or non-profit group.

We issue studies about everything. Want to know if boys really are different than girls? Don’t worry, there are hundreds of studies performed on just that subject. I figured all that out in the bathtub when I was about 3, but our government needs to fund a university study to try and see if what you see is what you get.

We study mating habits of Northeastern moose, which I suspect are very near the mating habits of Northwestern moose. We study to see if marijuana really does affect one’s appetite or alcohol affects our judgment when meeting members of the opposite sex.

On and on it goes, but one recent study caught my eye. Great Britain’s Aston University recently conducted a study to see if the time honored “food dropped on the floor can be eaten if it is picked up within 5 seconds rule” is true.

This study is near blasphemous. I have adhered to this rule for most of my life. I don’t need any study now trying to upset the apple cart. In college, I adhered to the five-day rule, which said anything left unrefrigerated outside in my apartment could still be eaten so long as it was followed by a gracious helping of beer, which was pretty much a guarantee back then. I learned that alcohol can kill botulism, E. coli and the majority of one’s brain cells, all before the age of 25.

This study found out several interesting things. First of all, it said 87 percent of people admitted they eat things dropped on the floor. Mind you, this study involves only people in Great Britain, so remind me never to attend a diner party in London. Apparently they graze around on the floor like Angus cattle over there.

To ease one’s mind a little, however, 50 percent say they do so only when observing the 5-second rule.

“I say, ol’ chap, excuse me, but you dropped your fish and chips. Let me scoop that up before the old 5-second buzzer rules it out of play.”

“Ah, yes, a jolly good fish and chips it is, too.”

The study found there actually is less contamination if the food is picked up within 5 seconds. That is the good news.

The bad news is it does not work if the contaminant is salmonella, as it attaches on contact.

It also found the least likely way of spreading germs is if the food is dropped on carpet, not a slick surface. I’ve always avoided food dropped on carpet, rationalizing it most likely had the most nasty stuff to be picked up. Who knows? Maybe the British all use Electrolux vacuums so their carpet is extra clean.

The study finally warned sticky food — like sticky buns — was more likely to pick up bacteria than, say, a dry biscuit.

So, I can conclude the following:

— Always eat on the carpet dry food like pizza, toast and Aunt Jenny’s turkey.

— Sticky buns dropped must be abandoned, which will break the 9-year-old Hurricane boy’s heart.

— If you plan on having a wild party with lots of dropped food, invite a few Brits and they’ll clean up the floor like a herd of goats. Or do what I do and invite Fathead the Rottweiler dog in to clean up the floor … and maybe a few guests if he’s hungry enough.

I’m afraid it will take more than a British study to change my 5-second rule habits. Sticky buns, beware.

Email columnist T. Gamble at wtg@colliergamble.com.