The 5-Second Rule Explained

RuleAlmost everyone has dropped food on the floor and still wanted to eat it. Some people apply the "5-second rule" — that random saying about how food won't become contaminated with bacteria if you pick it up off the floor in 5 seconds or less.

The 5-second rule has become such a part of our culture that scientists actually tested it. As you can probably guess, they found that the "rule" is a myth: Bacteria can attach to food even if you pick it up super fast. So, depending on which types of bacteria happen to climb on board, you could still get sick.

Two facts to consider when you are tempted to enact the 5-second rule:
  1. A clean looking floor isn't necessarily clean. Newly washed floors are only as clean as the tools used to wash them. Even with a new mop or sponge, germs can still remain on the floor after cleaning.
  2. Although a piece of food does pick up more bacteria the longer it lays on the floor, bacteria can still attach itself to food almost instantly. Any food that makes contact with the floor can get contaminated if the conditions are right. Just to be safe, always throw the food that fell out.