Why Science Is Calling BS On The Five Second Rule

If its been there less than five seconds it’s ok right? [Photo: Giphy]

When we were little the majority of us grew up believing the magical “five second rule”. You know where you can swipe those dropped titbits of food from the floor, dust of the dirt and it will all be ok. And now that some of us are parents, the same mantra still applies. Dropped your sticky lolly? It’s ok, 5 second rule!

But it turns out that everything you thought you knew was wrong, because scientists are calling BS on the five second rule.

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have revealed that bacteria can contaminate food that falls on the floor in less than a second!

The scientists tested four surfaces – stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet – and four different foods - watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy sweets.

They also looked at four different contact times – less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds - and measured bacteria contamination.

Unsurprisingly, watermelon had the most contamination while gummy sweets had the least, suggesting that transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food is affected most by moisture. Carpet also fared better when it came to contamination transfer than did tile or stainless steel.

Though it is fair to say that the longer the food stays in contact with the surface, the more bacteria will transfer, what isn’t true is that nothing happens under five seconds and other factors, including the type of food and the surface it falls on, are of equal or greater importance.

If that ends up on the floor, you best put it in the bin! [Photo: Markus Spiske raumrot.com via Pexels]

“The popular notion of the ‘five-second rule’ is that food dropped on the floor, but picked up quickly, is safe to eat because bacteria need time to transfer,” explains lead researcher Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science at Rutgers.

“We decided to look into this because the practice is so widespread. The topic might appear ‘light’ but we wanted our results backed by solid science.”

“The ‘five-second rule’ is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food. Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously,” he continues.

So next time you drop a Haribo on the floor, though it’s totally crushing you should probably just cut your losses and toss it in the bin, unless of course it was only on the floor for like a second. The one second rule is totally a thing. Just ask science.

Do you swear by the five second rule? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

You’ve Probably Been Defrosting Your Food Wrong All This Time

This Is Not A Drill: The World Is Running Out Of Coffee

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting