Infected Double-Dipping

  Let’s say that you’re at a social gathering and they have a delicious plate of snacks with a variety of dipping sauces. I have the pressure to scoop the perfect amount of dipping sauce in order to savor the condiments flavor for my next several bites. I was taught that it’s common courtesy to not double dip in a public setting. Usually when I’m with my friends though that rule flies out the window. Do we actually contaminate the sauce if we double dip and how severe is it?

According to this research done by the Dept. of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Clemson University, to test the theory of contamination of the dipping sauce and whether or not we transfer germs the researchers re-enacted the act of double dipping, using a Wheat Thin cracker and sterile water. Their experimental study included bitten(independent variable) and not bitten(controlled) pieces of Wheat Thins and immediately after dipped their chip into the sterile water. Their dependent variable is the germ results on the petri dish. Their results weren’t surprising and we have to reject the null hypothesis that double dipping does nothing to the defilement of the dipping sauce. As we bite into a food item there are bits of germ particles remaining where the bite is.
According to this article by Michelle Jarvie that bases off of the research study above, the results of that study discovered a count of over 10,000 bacteria to be transferred to the dip between three to six times of double dipping.
The famous show Mythbusters did a experimental study you on this topic as well and found different results. According to the experimenters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman the results weren’t as drastic as the results in the previous study discussed above. By using a similar method with a sterilized chip and sauce that resembles salsa their results showed that double-dipping only increases the bacteria count slightly in the dipping sauce. Apparently the sauce already comprises of bacteria adding a few more wouldn’t be detrimental to your health.

It’s interesting that two different studies showed different results. There could have been human error, chance, or a different variable that may have affected the results of the studies.
The simple task you can do if you want to avoid any kind of germs revolving around double dipping, simply have your own sauce or just don’t eat it at all.

Here’s( a video of the myth busters doing the double dipping experiment:

5 thoughts on “Infected Double-Dipping

  1. Candace Burke

    I am one of those people who double dips. Sorry! I was wondering though in your research you found that about 10,000 germs are transferred into the sauce used, are these germs significant enough to get a person sick? That might sound gross but could they just be the same germs that someone else already has and therefore are not a threat to another person. This topic also has to do with Andrew’s discussion of risk. Yes the frequency may be high, but the effect that it has on a person seems very low, which in turn proves to have no risk. Unless the person double dipping has mono or something!

    1. Amanda Grace Thieu Post author

      I completely agree with your points Candance and honestly, I double dip as well. I think in the first study they didn’t really classify which type of germs are present in the experiment. I think they just try and scare you by giving you a large amount of something that has a bad stigma around it. It just depends on the person whether or not you’re a germaphobe or you simply just don’t care. Yeah the idea of your germs and other people’s germs are mixing in a community food and you’re eating other people’s germs, I just wouldn’t be too crazy about it unless they’re actually sick then that’ll be contagious.

  2. Arianna L Del Valle

    I. Hate. Double. Dipping. There’s just something about imagining all the germs from someone’s mouth being transferred from a chip to the sauce, lingering there, and then me eating it that makes me sick to my stomach. Honestly, I might be overreacting, but I can’t help it! Do you think that maybe the way we think about double dipping can influence our susceptibility to contracting the few germs that might be in the dip? Honestly, these studies do little to convince me that double dipping is harmless; I’m convinced it’s not!

    1. Amanda Grace Thieu Post author

      Oh I absolutely believe there’s a stigma surrounding double dipping. My thing is, I think it’s because we’re too focused on what’s going into our body in the first place germs seem much more repulsive and harmful, but we don’t really focus on the germs that we encounter every day like touching different surfaces and talking on a cell phone! But yeah I’m not sure which to believe, I wonder what will convince you that double dipping isn’t too bad.

  3. Mya Legend Avant

    I was always told not to double-dip as a child to, and that drinking after someone else was also bad. Like mention in you post I have been told by some that it is a horrible thing to do. However, other suggest that there are not enough germs to affect you like you mentioned. These variations make me wonder if there is a meta analysis for this topic. I feel like if there were that we could get a more clear answer to this question because it is possible that one of these studies is just an outlier. I aslo wondered how each of the studies determined if the germs were enough to affect us. It would be cool if they could do a test where people actually eat the food that has been double dipped, but I don’t know how ethical that is and it may not be perceived as the cleanest.

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