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10-second rule

At a barbecue the other day someone dropped a burger. We were on a roof five storeys up and the decking the burger landed on had been rained on the day before. They retrieved it swiftly and wondered whether they should go ahead and eat it. An American guest said it would be fine as it had been gathered up in time so that it didn’t contravene the five-second rule. I said I thought it was a 10-second rule. He replied, “That’s because you guys had rationing during the war. Standards were more lax.”

Now pageantmalarkey has muddied the waters still further with her mention of a four-second rule. This is all too confusing and I demand that we settle this question once and for all.

NB - Surely we can all agree that food can remain on the floor for some length of time and still be safe to eat; the only question is how long. Ask any doctor. Well, maybe not any doctor.

Poll #1238612 Food hygiene

Length of time that food can remain on the floor and remain safe to consume:

1 second
2 seconds
3 seconds
4 seconds
5 seconds
10 seconds
30 seconds
1 minute
10 minutes
I live on a bench so do not understand the question


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2008 09:31 am (UTC)
The rule is the 3-second rule, obv. However I regularly flaunt this by means of slow counting.
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
I also abide by a 3 second rule, which I very rarely flout, by virtue of not actually counting but just estimating the amount of time. If I really want to eat something then blimey, I think it's only been on the floor 3 seconds. Though I don't entirely trust the cleanliness of my floor...
Aug. 11th, 2008 09:47 am (UTC)
I have never heard of a four second rule before and i'm quite old.
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
Dude, I ate something yesterday that had fallen on Anton's head. I don't think I should be allowed to mix with civilised company.
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)
I think you have to vary things such that (say) coconuts get more leeway than (say) soup. I'm working on a complicatedly mathematical-looking formula involving shoving together a number of vague concepts (squishiness, filthiness, hunger, and so forth)that will implausibly yield an answer in seconds, regardless of the units of the constituent factors. I'll send a press release to all the news science sections while the people who actually have a clue are on summer holiday, so you'll be able to get the full rundown on the BBC website.
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)
Be sure to illustrate how this can be measured using a Routemaster bus.
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
3 seconds : AU standard.
Aug. 11th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
stick it back on the bbq for a bit, that'll kill the aids or mrsa or whatever you're afraid of
Aug. 11th, 2008 12:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Also, your stomach is designed to cope with these things. If you're not prepared to go beyond three seconds, you might as well carry two bottles of anti-bacterial spray in a cap on your head and spray your entire body each time you eat any food at all. You crazy Howard Hughes bastards.
Aug. 11th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
May I suggest that if you are having a barbecue in a backroom in a San Francisco gay bar called PIGS, this rule should be void. Something to mull over, there. It very much depends on the floor. Carpeted floors, also.
Aug. 11th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
flaneurette seems to have been to the same venue, as this photo of hers attests:

She says to try the veal.
Aug. 11th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
It's a 4 second rule.

It takes 2 seconds to debate whether or not to pick it up, and a further 2 to bend down and pick it up.

4 seconds.
Aug. 11th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
This is very floor-dependent. The rules in my kitchen would be different than in the kitchens of my friends who are better housekeepers. And all bets are off when it comes to bar floors. While I always appreciate knowing what is correct, I think this is a matter for on-going diplomacy rather than dogmatic rulings.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 16th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
yesss, read the final option as "on the beach." zero seconds.
Aug. 12th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
I suggest testing a similar hypothesis by putting wet paint on a surface, and then allowing one's hand to drop onto that surface. How long does the hand have to lie there before it gets paint on it?
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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