The Five Second Rule

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Source: It’s Interesting

Nicole Kell

Most have us grown up hearing about the “five-second rule”. Simply put, people say that food is safe to consume if it is snatched up from the ground in five seconds or less.

But is the food really safe to eat or should we throw it away?

High school student Jillian Clarke and Dr. Meredith Agle at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign performed an experiment to determine whether it is safe to eat food that has been on the ground. Jillian swabbed the floors of a lab, hall, dormitory, and cafeteria in order to quantify the number of organisms. She repeated this and then examined swabs from both trials. The swabs showed minimal microorganisms. The lack of microorganisms on the floor is due to the fact that floors she was testing were dry and most pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella only survive in moist conditions.

However, it has been proven that when it comes to damp floors and carpet, or moist and sticky foods such as gum, watermelon and ice cream, all bets are off when it comes to the “five second rule”. A professor from Clemson University performed a similar experiment, but on different types of surfaces. He found that it didn’t matter how long the food was on the floor, but the amount of bacteria on the floor and the moisture of the food/floor play a significant role how much bacteria transferred to the food.

When it comes to the spread of bacteria and eating food off of the ground, researchers and doctors advise people to throw away the food in order to avoid risk of illness.


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