Omni Brain

The Super Bowl is all about chips and dip – so be careful. It could kill you if you’re not!

If you’re a Seinfeld watcher you probably remember this scene:

TIMMY: What are you doing?

GEORGE: What?

TIMMY: Did…did you just double-dip that chip?

GEORGE: Excuse me?

TIMMY: You double-dipped the chip!

GEORGE: “Double-dipped”? What are you talking about?

TIMMY: You dipped the chip. You took a bite. And you dipped again.

GEORGE: So…?

TIMMY: That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip! From now on, when you take a chip – just take one dip and end it!

GEORGE: Well, I’m sorry, Timmy…but I don’t dip that way.

TIMMY: Oh, you don’t, huh?

GEORGE: No. You dip the way you want to dip… I’ll dip the way I want to dip.

TIMMY: Gimme the chip! Gimme the chip!

And the video:

Timmy is clearly onto something with this. According to research by Judith Trevino, Brad Ballieu, Rachel Yost, Samantha Danna, Genevieve Harris, Jacklyn Dejonckheere , Danielle Dimitroff, Mark Philips from the Deptartment of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Clemson University, “Double-dipping does transfer bacteria: George was wrong!”

I’m imagining doing this experiment right now and giggling to myself. Basically the bacteria levels of each students mouth were measured and then

Each student in the CI team conducted four treatments. For the dipping treatments, a cracker was bitten, dipped in the sterile water then discarded (Figure 1). The control treatments consisted of dipping a cracker without biting. The four treatments were: 3 dips without biting, 6 dips without biting, 3 dips with biting, and 6 dips with biting.

After all the dipping and letting stuff sit around for a while they measured the bacteria levels in the sterile water.

Unsurprisingly they found that

For the “double dipping” experiment, a higher population of bacteria ( P≤0.05)was found in solutions dipped with crackers after biting compared to solutions dipped without biting (Figure 3). There was no difference between the 3 and 6 dips (P>0.05) as far a bacteria transferred to the dipping solution. Bacterial populations found in the solution after crackers were dipped without biting were less than 10 cfu per ml of the dipping solution. The results of our research proved that bacteria can be transferred from the mouth to the dip.

If you’re interested in more details you can Download the poster right here. Or if you want more information about this and other exciting food safety research like how to properly wash your hands and the five second rule head over to Paul Dawson’s webpage.

Have a happy and healthy Super Bowl – and don’t forget to only dip once!

HT:Brian L

Comments

  1. #1 Brian
    January 31, 2008

    I love this study.

  2. #2 Matt
    January 31, 2008

    Hi I am a high school biology student. This was a great post especially during this ever so important time…..the SUPER BOWL!!!!. I never knew how bad it actually was to double dip. I know I will think twice before eat out of the same dip as my disgusting uncle Tom. I was wondering how this compares to germs when sharing food and drinks?

  3. #3 Danielle
    February 2, 2008

    Hello, I am also a high school biology student and our teacher linked us to this website. It is even more disgusting thinking about double dipping now that I know the terrible truth about it. You can also help to prevent bacteria from spreading in the kitchen (while making the dip). I found a little webpage to test you to see if you’re keeping it clean around the kitchen.
    http://extension.missouri.edu/extensioninfonet/article.asp?id=3001

  4. #4 Skeptigirl
    February 5, 2008

    Double dipping, can you day “salad bar”? Yes, they are supposed to monitor the customers, watching to prevent use of used utensils and plates to scoop the food. I’m sure they do a peachy job on that count.

    And kids’ faces just happen to be below that glass plate which is between the adult faces and the food.

    Think I’m being a tad too obsessive compulsive about the community salad trough? Try a Google search of “e coli salad bar”.

    Then there are the free samples at the grocery store that occasionally include dip. Doubles or not, customer fingers clearly contribute to the mix.

    But the worst place of all the germ exchange venues involving food and beverage are public drinking fountains. Yes folks, public drinking fountains. It’s been over a century since the good Dr Snow mapped out the concentric cholera case density that was inversely proportional to the distance from one infamous town water pump. And to this day, we still drink from the community tap.

    Lest you think chlorine in the water takes care of things, I remind you it takes ~30 minutes for chemical disinfection of clean water. So whatever is on that fountain that washes into your mouth has not had 30 minutes of exposure to the chlorine in the water before reaching your lovely pharynx or stomach.

    What’s my advice then considering the above? It’s all a trade off of risk and benefit. If you prefer an occasional extra viral infection to giving up any of the above (though I cannot imagine anyone who couldn’t forgo the free grocery samples that include a dipping bowl) then do nothing except perhaps cut down during influenza season, because flu kills people, and avoid the sources with high traffic or obvious signs of likely unmonitored contamination.

    I only share dip with a few intimate friends. I gave up drinking fountains years ago and salad bars more recently. My son brought enough infections home from school to fill all the openings on my dance card. Something had to go.

    Cheers.

    Skeptigal (ARNP, infectious disease field)

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