To dip or not to dip

The consequences of double dipping

Story by Peyton Sims, staff writer

You’re eating at a restaurant with your friends, and one of your friends goes to dip their chip in salsa after already taking a bite. It’s now too late; you disappointedly look at the contaminated bowl of salsa that you’re no longer going to consume.

Many have grown up being taught about how improper it is to double dip but have never been told why. People assume it’s obviously because of germs, but what diseases can actually be spread by double dipping?

Strep throat, measles, mumps, influenza virus, Legionnaires’ disease and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are known to spread through saliva, along with multiple more. A select few of those diseases are even known to be fatal, so technically a person could get severely ill just because they decided they wanted more salsa on an already bitten chip.

“Although double dipping sounds gross, there is conflicting research regarding bacteria growth. Most research proves that bacteria transmission is minimal. Trace amounts of bacteria grows in salsa without double dipping,” pediatric nurse practitioner Cheryl Kite said. “For example, if someone has an open cold sore, the risk of transferring the herpes simplex virus through double dipping is much lower than from kissing. Which means teenagers are more at risk for developing fever blisters from kissing than double dipping.”

A certified nurse admitted that the diseases above are known to spread through double dipping, but individuals are more likely to catch illnesses in other ways.

The different types of dips also determine how much or how fast the germs spread. If the salsa has more of a liquid consistency, the germs spread much more rapidly. However, if it’s thick queso or chocolate dip, it moves much slower. If you’re a party host, it may be best to serve cheese dip rather than salsa so a large number of guests will most likely not catch any illnesses.

There are some alternatives to double dipping. Everyone at the table can get separate dishes so you don’t have to worry about receiving or spreading germs to others.

“I personally feel like double dipping is disgusting because I’m a germaphobe, and the fact that everyone is constantly putting their germs back into the dip really bothers me,” sophomore Malley Wallace said. “I won’t double dip outside of my family because the idea is gross to me. I don’t understand how people are okay with doing it because of all of the diseases that are being spread around the school.”