Five-second rule: Myth or fact?

By Michelle Champalanne • Published: June 2nd, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Reaching for that dropped piece of food on the ground may not be that bad for you, after all.

A recent study revealed thaPt the five-second rule might actually be sort of true. Researchers discovered time is a significant factor in how much bacteria gets transferred to the piece of dropped food.

Their results from the study found that the longer the food is left on the floor, the more bacteria it can pick up. So, jumping for your food on the floor before you reach a full five seconds could make a difference.

However, they also found it depends on the type of surface the food is dropped onto. Carpeted surfaces pass on the least amount of bacteria to the dropped food while laminate or tiled surfaces transfer the most bacteria after five seconds.

Researchers warn that dropped food still carries a risk of infection, as it is susceptible to the bacteria present on the floor at the time. It all comes down to what type of bacteria is on the ground.

Other studies have argued that the five-second rule is incorrect and that the food must be discarded due to immediate contamination. Those researchers counteracted the five-second rule with a rule of their own: When in doubt, throw it out.

However, researchers from both studies agree there is a possibility that dropped food will become contaminated, and factors like the type of food and surface can affect that.

The researchers also surveyed people to find out if they have eaten food dropped on the floor. Eighty-seven percent of the people admitted to eating food dropped on the floor or said they would do so.

While researchers say it’s alright to go ahead and indulge in that last M&M that dropped on the floor, be careful how long it’s been there. After all, who knows what type of bacterial friends it’s made down there.