The answer to the question we’ve all asked ourselves when dropping food on the floor

The answer to the question we’ve all asked ourselves when dropping food on the floor
The answer to the question we’ve all asked ourselves when dropping food on the floor

Five, four, three, two, one… Too late, it’s over! All you have to do is throw your toast in the trash, at the risk of falling victim to potentially fatal food poisoning due to its short stay on your kitchen tiles. So, myth or reality? Here are the latest opinions from scientists.

It’s early, you’re not quite awake yet, and the morning begins with… A piece of toast falling on the floor tilefloor tile from the kitchen. Well, you have to act quickly: it seems that you have five seconds to decide its fate before it is no longer edible. Whether you are part of the team neither seen nor known ”, or rather of the team “ yuck “, what follows may make you think differently during the next post-toast-drop countdown, because it seems that the jam side is important, among other factors likely to aggravate this little drama. Two Dutch microbiologists have claimed that before five seconds, a food would not yet be contaminated by bacteria, while adding that a number of factors must be taken into account in this consideration, such as the type of soil, its cleanliness as well as than the type of food.

A fatal fall under conditions

Researchers from the American University Rutgers demonstrated during a study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology in 2016, that the type of food in contact with a surface contaminated by bacteria plays a more determining role in the transfer of these bacteria than the time of contact with the surface. Starting from postulatepostulate that the bacteria move via L’airair and water, if we drop wet food – the jam side of the toast for example -, the bacteria on the ground move there more easily than if the food is dry, than the time it takes to contact either for one second or five minutes.

What about the type of soil and its cleanliness? Several scientists have examined the transfer of harmful bacterial colonies such as SalmonellaSalmonella And Campylobacter ]- able to survive on the ground for four weeks – from various surfaces such as drinkdrink, tiles or even on a carpet. After analysis, they realized that when food fell on tiled surfaces, it immediately picked up 99% of the colonies present, compared to half as many on wooden surfaces, and less than 0.5% on the carpet, all while respecting contact with the surface for less than five seconds (note that colony transfer increased with the time the food was in contact with the surface).

So if the five-second rule is indeed valid for dry food falling on a regularly cleaned carpet, it is not valid for wet food falling on tiles that rarely see a mop… Notice to victims of Murphy’s Law whose cleaning is not one of their favorite pastimes! The risk of developing a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract therefore certainly exists, but fortunately it is more common to experience simple digestive discomfort than to develop a fatal illness.

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