Myth or Fact? #1 - The Five Second Rule

in food •  3 years ago  (edited)

Let‘s be honest, it happened to everyone of us at least once. You spread some delicious "Insert what you love here" on your bread and you are ready to satisfy your hunger. Just as you want to take your bite the toast falls out of your hand. In almost slow-motion you see your toast flying towards the ground. On a rotating basis you see the side with the Nutella and the empty one. What happens? It drops right on the side with the Nutella. it! Under five seconds and you are good to go. Is this true, is it okay to eat food that we picked up under five seconds?

We will bring light into this myth and see if there is any truth behind.

Fig.1 Some bad, bad germs on some crisps. Credits

The rule

The rule states that if food drops to the floor and is pick it up within five seconds, it is not contaminated and edible. Bacteria and other germs will not have your health affected when the food is picked up within five seconds. Myth or fact? There were indeed two scientific study to this question.
The first study is by Jillian Clarke from the University of Illinois. In a survey he found out that about 56% of male and 70% female knew about the five second rule and stick to the it. He further proved that food became immediately contaminated when having contact with a contaminated surface. His work was the basis for the second study. The team around Paul L Dawson from the University of Clemson did three experiments to determine whether or not bacteria contaminated food. For this experiment they used bolognese and bread and let the food drop to different surfaces like wood, carpet and tile.

The results are clear: the moment the food has contact with the surface the bacteria have transferred. The only difference made the variable of time which determines the amount of bacteria which settle on the food. The longer the contact with the surface the higher the amount of germs actually. Further they showed, that the transfer from floor to food was higher on the wood and tile surface than the carpet. Another main result is that bacteria can survive up to 28 days on certain surfaces. The bacteria used in this experiment were salmonellae.

What does that mean to you

While the time might be important, the five second is not. The amount of bacteria is ten time higher when food was over one minute in contact with the floor compared to some seconds. Food becomes immediately contaminated, no matter how long it was in touch with a surface. However, if you keep your house clean it is unlikely to find any pathogen germs around and you can enjoy your food even when it touched the ground. Still, consider that if you are outside or in dirty areas, it is much more likely to find harmful germs. The five second rule is nothing more than a myth and no fact.

I hope you enjoyed the first episode of Myth or Fact. The next one will follow tomorrow.

Source of the scientific study:
Residence time and food contact time effects on transfer of Salmonella Typhimurium from tile, wood and carpet: testing the five-second rule

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How can I abide by the 5-second rule . . . when I have a 2-second dog?

I gave my son(then 5) a sandwich for lunch. I had to leave for a couple minutes and then came back. His sand wich was all wet. I asked him why his sandwich was wet. He said he dropped it and washed it off.

Noce post! I also did one awile back on the five second rule, ceect it out if you like! 😉

I remember the 5 second rule! Lol. Like you mentioned it depends on where and what it is. I wouldnt do 5 second rule in a public bathroom yuck! But home I can. Thanks for your post! :)

Thank you for taking your time to read and comment

As many people have said thankfully building the immune system is important and thus being exposed to non sterile environments is essential.
As you said this post is not about that but about the 5 second rule and in that regard the post is accurate and useful.
Thanks for the post. May people stop fearing germs/bacterias!

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

I totally agree with you quinneaker, our body needs pathogen germs in order to build a sustainable immune system. Thanks to previous infection we have build a specific immune system. That's what I wrote back in the Bacteria and Viruses article :)


A dilema we all face at some point in our lives
Depends on what you drop and where
like your not going to eat an ice-cream you dropped near a public toilet
but you may pick a piece go toast up off your freshly washed kitchen floor especially if its your last slice of bread you have in the whole of the house

Right on the point!

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In the quantum world actually nothing ever make contact with each other, meaning there are no 2 atoms making any physical contact but it's the gravity of each atom pulling other atoms near each other.

Every thing kind of works like magnets constantly electrons moving very fast and the negative and positive(polar affects) is shifting in nano seconds so before moving apart they pull back near each other and before colliding they move apart, now imagine infinite numbers of atoms in the universe are doing this non stop, just like when you play with 2 magnets when they pull and turning one magnet makes them to push outward.

Now with all that said yet I dropped my wafer with honey on it on a sheet in my bed and picked it up almost after 1 second, though I knew it is already contaminated but as nothing big was visible I ate it anyways. :)

Hope it tasted well :D Thank you for taking time to read and answer to this

@timsaid, my son hasa 2 day rule and he is still upright. I try to imagine a time with no running water and no refrigeration

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

I don't know what to answer to this :D

ROFL:how can one effectively build the immune system without picking up the dropped food and eating it?

  ·  3 years ago (edited)

That's another issue. Todays topic is simply the five second rule :)
We surely can have a talk about the immune system here Life Explorers – The Science Academy – The Immune System

If the food stuff is that important you can follow the 30 second rule.

I spent some 7 months eating out of bins... and here I type. I actually think it's boosted my immune system, now I just always pick stuff up anyway. better than letting the ground get dirty ;)

The time we strengthen our immune system with dirt and stuff is in our childhood. Where we used to take everything into our mouth. I know what you mean and I truly agree, but I focus on the myth here

These posts are great. Just started with the first one today. Will move up the ladder slowly. :)
Thank you.

Great fun and so much knowledge imparted. I go by the rule if it falls on the floor you don't eat it. Anyway love your posts as we all hear of urban myths and very often they are facts that have no basis in reality. Keep it up.