Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It's a common knowledge that if a fly falls into your food or drink, you probably shouldn't drink it because it might cause food poisoning. This might be a myth itself but that is not what I'm sceptical about.

According to Islamic teachings, if a fly falls into your food/drink, you need to push it further in so its wings touch your food/drink. It's said that the wings have the antidote property that can prevent food poisoning.

The Prophet said “If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink), for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease.”

- Source: Sahih Al-Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 54, Number 537

I just heard the claim on the radio (in Malaysia) and many people are calling in to confirm it.

Is this true?

share|improve this question
7  
Food poisoning from a single fly? I really doubt that. At least with "normal" flies. The "wing with antidote" thing sounds very much like a folks tale. –  Martin Scharrer Jul 6 '12 at 9:48
1  
If poisoning food would be that simple, and in a way which is hardly to be proven as murder, poisoning other peoples food would be a mass phenomen. –  user unknown Jul 6 '12 at 15:00
2  
@Martin: Turns out to be a traditional religious story. I've edited. –  Oddthinking Jul 6 '12 at 15:18
    
This question has earned a number of speculative answers (sometimes loosely based on this news article) and answers based purely on faith rather than evidence. These are not acceptable forms of evidence here. The question is now "protected", so you need more familiarity with the site before you can post an answer. –  Oddthinking Oct 13 '13 at 0:17

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

This idea that one wing causes illness while the other is the antidote simply isn't plausible.

The University of Florida's Entomology Department explains

Pathogenic organisms are picked up by flies from garbage, sewage and other sources of filth, and then transferred on their mouthparts, through their vomitus, feces and contaminated external body parts to human and animal food.

So, the wings are not the only source of the pathogens.

Further, Wikipedia explains that house flies carry a number of different pathogens, including:

  • parasitic diseases: cysts of protozoa e.g. Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and eggs of helminths, e.g., Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuros trichura, Haemenolypes nana, Enterobius vermicularis.
  • bacterial diseases: typhoid, cholera, dysentery, pyogenic cocci, [...]
  • viruses: enteroviruses: poliomyelitis, viral hepatitis (A & E) [...]

So, the wings would not merely need to contain antibacterial agents (which might be theoretically feasible), but antiviral agents and protozoacides, suitable for knocking out all the different diseases.

(Why would only one wing contain these toxins, while the other, apparently identical wing, does not?)

share|improve this answer
2  
That is not what the OP is saying. He says the wings contain the antidote to whatever is (I assume) on the legs. –  nico Jul 6 '12 at 18:50
2  
@nico: This is slightly tricky. The OP gave a claim without a cite. One reason for the cite is to make sure we are addressing the right question. I searched for a cite and found it was actually from a religious tract, and the OP had slightly misquoted it. My answer addresses the cited claim, rather than the hearsay version. –  Oddthinking Jul 7 '12 at 3:34
2  
I completely missed your edit :P –  nico Jul 7 '12 at 7:52

protected by Community Oct 13 '13 at 0:12

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.