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five second rule food

We all know the devastation that comes with dropping a much coveted piece food on the floor, so naturally on occasion we have employed the Five Second Rule.

But unfortunately for those of us who’ve justified the consumption of fallen food with the argument that it “barely touched the floor”, a two-year study has found that no matter how little time food spends on your kitchen tiles it will undoubtedly pick up bacteria.

According to The New York Times, the recently published results of the New Jersey based study which tested four different types of foods – cut watermelon, bread, buttered bread and gummy candy – on four different types of surfaces – stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet – for periods of one, five, 30 and 300 seconds show that no fallen food escaped contamination.

While the research did show that the longer the food spent on the ground the more bacteria it picked up, the main microbiologist involved said that “bacteria can contaminate instantaneously”.

The surfaces which transferred the most germs were tiles and stainless steel, while the food which absorbed the most bacteria was watermelon because of its moist texture.

So all those seemingly grand bits of toast, pasta, doughnuts and cake that bounced from the floor right into our bellies were well and truly – shudder – contaminated.

GIFs: giphy.com


Unless you have the willpower of a saint, you'll know it's almost impossible to say goodbye to a delicious piece of chocolate/toast/cake, even if it's just fallen on the floor.

We've always lived by the "five second rule" for dropped food – if it spends five or less seconds on the floor, you've got the all-clear to pick the food up, look around shiftily to make sure nobody saw, and stuff it in your mouth.

Not the most scientifically based approach, but it's always worked for us.

Now though, health experts have dubbed the rule a "myth," saying it's no safer to eat food that's spent five seconds on the floor than food that's spent an hour there.

"We definitely do not recommend it," food safety expert Rachelle Williams told the Daily Mail.

However, she did concede that some foods are safer than others when it comes to eating something that's been dropped on the floor. "It all comes down to bacteria," Rachelle said. 

"Bacteria relies on moisture to grow, so any food wet food is considering potentially hazardous. It's much easier for bacteria to grow on those foods. With dry foods, it is conversely much tougher for bacteria to grow."

So while you might be okay to grab a fallen crisp off the kitchen floor, the five second rule should definitely not be applied to "wet" foods like cut fruit, cold meats, ham, salami, dairy products, and cooked rice or pasta.

That's us told…

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