Can 'double-dipping' food spread disease? Here's why we should all be grossed out

How to Make a Hot Bacon and Corn Dip

Some people hate when their friends do it. Some people don't mind. The debate on whether you should or should not "double-dip" your chips, or any food item, into a sauce or dip twice, has raged ever since one particular episode of Seinfeld, where George Costanza is accused of double-dipping the same chip.

"Did you just double dip that chip? You dipped the chip, you took a bite, and you dipped again," the accuser says in the episode. "That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip."

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It turns out that the accuser of the "double-dip" in the episode might not be completely wrong. A group of students from Clemson University in South Carolina put together a series of experiments to test for the transferal of bacteria. The undergraduates found that the practice of double dipping actually does transfer bacteria to another person.

The experiment used wheat crackers and three different dips: salsa, cheese dip, and chocolate syrup. The students also measured how much bacteria could transfer from the wheat crackers to a cup of water.

"We found that in the absence of double-dipping, our foods had no detectable bacteria present," Paul Dawson, a food microbiologist at Clemson University, wrote in The Scientific American. "Once subjected to double-dipping, the salsa took on about five times more bacteria (1,000 bacteria/ml of dip) from the bitten chip when compared to chocolate and cheese dips (150-200 bacteria/ml of dip)."

But double-dippers don't need to worry too much. Thousands of bacteria and viruses already live in the the oral cavity, and the majority of them pose no immediate health threat. Double-dipping probably poses no major threat to public or global health, but there are some diseases that can be spread through saliva, like the influenza virus or strep throat.

"We get exposed to germs in a thousand different ways," Peter Mehlman, who wrote the Seinfeld double-dipping episode, told the New York Times in 2008, after recalling his own experience with someone admonishing him for double-dipping. "Besides, I thought the dip was enough to kill anything. It was probably one of those '60s style dips with artificial dried onion soup."

If you want to keep your mouth free of bacteria from others, the best bet might be to just eat from your own separate bowl.

Can "Double-Dipping" Food Spread Disease? Here's Why We Should All Be Grossed Out
Source: Liz Schultz/AP

Click through to see 7 chips and dip recipes:
7 pass me the chips & dips recipes
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Can 'double-dipping' food spread disease? Here's why we should all be grossed out

1.) Honey Dijon Cheeseball
Slightly sweet, salty and very savory, the Honey-Dijon Cheeseball is incredibly easy to make. It combines the rich, smooth texture of honey and cream cheese with crispy, crunchy pretzels. This simple recipe is the perfect game day appetizer.
(Photo: Rachael Ray)

4.) Game Day Guacamole
The classic guacamole gets an extra kick with pickled hot peppers for an extra tang. If you're making a ton of guacamole for the big game, use this helpful tip from Rachael Ray. Take a wire rack and place over your bowl. Slice your avocado and then press down over the wire rack and into the bowl. You'll have mashed, creamy avocado in no time!
(Photo: Rachael Ray)

5.) Buffalo Dip with Whole Wheat Pita Chips
Buffalo, buffalo and more buffalo sauce! That's the one classic flavor everyone enjoys while watching the big game. The best part about this recipe is that it's secretly healthy. Instead of paired with fried tortilla chips, we serve it with wheat pita chips and veggies. Plus, we cut the fat and calories in half by adding cottage cheese and chicken stock. Dig in!
(Photo: Rachael Ray)

6.) Cheese Boat
No one will pass up on Trisha Yearwood's Cheese Boat. Sure, you could serve a regular ol' plate of cheese to your party guests -- but why not go the extra mile by making this incredibly delicious -- not to mention time-saving -- cheese boat? Your guests will devour this app in mere minutes; better make another one during half-time!
(Photo: Rachael Ray)

7.) Feta Dip with Artichokes
Who knew that your canned artichoke hearts could wind up being the life of the party?! All you have to is mix your artichoke hearts with feta cheese, mayo, Parmesan cheese, garlic and sweet pimientos, pop it into the oven for about 20 minutes and voila! You just made the best party dip, ever. Touchdown!
(Photo: Rachael Ray)

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