What Is the 5-Second Rule?
All of us, at sometime or other, has dropped food on the floor and secretly still wanted to eat it. People often apply the rule known as, ‘the 5-second rule’. You’re probably already aware of it, and might even practise it!
The 5 second rule works on the principle that food won’t get contaminated with germs if you can pick it up off the floor in 5 seconds or less.
Is The 5 Second Rule True?
The 5-second rule has become such an ‘urban myth‘ and was considered fact in some parts, that scientists actually tested for it. After testing, they found that the ‘rule’ was mostly a myth.
Even if you pick up dropped food super fast, bacteria can attach to it. Depending which types of bacteria climb on board in those few seconds, it could still cause you to fall ill.
When you feel the urge or temptation to apply the 5 second rule to food you’ve dropped on the floor, think about these two facts before eating it:
- All clean-looking floors are not necessarily clean
No matter how clean a floor looks, it will always be harbouring bacteria. Newly washed floors are only as clean as the tools used to wash them.
If you need a ‘visual’, would you eat food off a mop head after cleaning the floor? If not, why not? The floor has just been cleaned by it. Whatever is on the mop, is on the floor.
- You may be fast but you may not be fast enough
It’s true that the longer a piece of food sits on a floor, the more bacteria it picks up. However, bacteria can attach to it the moment it hits the floor. A floor can be full of bacterial contamination in the right conditions.
If in Doubt, Throw It Out
Not all bacteria is harmful. But, if you eat the wrong stuff, it can lead to the miserable onslaught of pain and a strong dose of ‘the runs’ or severe diarrhea.
The absence of visible dirt on the food you’ve dropped on the floor, does not mean that it is free of bacteria. Bacteria is microscopic and invisible to the naked eye.
You just can’t tell by looking at the food what kinds of bacteria may have just been picked up with it.
So what to do if a luscious piece of watermelon slips from your hand? The simple answer is, throw it out, or… let the dog have it!
Something else to consider, if you have pets walking around your home, you can be sure they are walking bacteria everywhere they go… including your kitchen floor.
If in doubt, throw it out!
Also remember that before handling food, always wash your hands first. We pick up a tremendous amount of bacteria through the course of a normal day.