You Won’t Trust The 5-Second Rule Anymore Once You Read This

5-second rule, bacteria, foods


You Won’t Trust The 5-Second Rule Anymore Once You Read This

Written by: Kat Gal

Chocolate brownies. Yes. Delicious, vegan, gluten-free, healthy, so-good-for your chocolate brownies. You want want. You reach for a slice. But as your grab one piece, your clumsy self makes an appearance and somehow the brownie lands on the floor. How did that happen? No problem though. 5 second rule – you can just pick it up quick and still eat it… right?

Looks like that’s not the case. Turns out that the 5-second rule is OUT; according to research at Rutgers University, bacteria may transfer to food that has fallen on the ground regardless of how fast you pick it up.

The 5-second rule – that eating food scooped up from the ground if you pick it up within 5 seconds – has been widely accepted for decades. But Donald Schaffner, professor in food science at Rutger, has found that bacteria can transfer within less than a second depending on the moisture, type of surface and contact time.

His study that has been published in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined four different surfaces (stainless steel, wood, ceramic tile and carpet) and four different foods (bread, buttered bread, gummy candy and watermelon) while also testing different contact times (one second, five seconds, 30 seconds and 300 seconds). They have also used tryptic soy broth and peptone buffer to grow enterobacter aerogenes, which are a type of nonpathogenic bacteria related to salmonella that naturally exists in the human digestive system.

Taking into consideration the type of surface, food, contact time and bacterial prep, they came up with 128 scenarios that they replicated 20 times to come up with 2,560 measurements analyzing food samples for cross-contamination.

Turns out that the gummy candy had the least contamination while the watermelon had the most, likely due to the moisture. Looks like wetter foods are at a higher risk for getting cross-contaminated with bacteria.

As far as surfaces go, the carpet had the lowest rates of bacteria transfer compared to stainless steel and tile, while wood seemed to show varying results.

The study shows that the 5-second rule can be true in some cases on some surfaces and with some foods, but in many cases bacteria can be transferred in a much shorter timeframe, even instantaneously.

To be safe, it is the best not to eat food off the ground or the floor. Just think about what’s there. You walk around it perhaps with not the cleanest feet or shoes or perhaps your pets sit there after running around outside or using the litter box. I bet that last visual helped you out.

As always, it is better to be safe than sorry and forget about the 5-second rule.

What do you think? Have you trusted the 5 second rule before? What do you think now? Let us know in the comments below. As always, we’d love to hear from you.


Kat Gal

Kat Gal

Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
Kat Gal


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