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‘Five-Second Rule’ for Food on Floor Is Untrue, Study Finds

The five-second rule posits that if you drop a piece of food on the floor and pick it up fast enough – say within five seconds of it touching the floor – it’s still safe to eat. This “rule” has been uttered by schoolchildren and, admit it, adults for decades – maybe longer – but is it really true? According to previous research as well as a new study covered by the New York Times, the answer is no. Bacteria can transfer to a surface almost instantly. So if you drop a piece of food on a contaminated floor (and virtually every floor is going to be covered in bacteria), it’s most likely going to pick up some bacteria.

STILL SAFE? While dropping food inevitably causes it to pick up bacteria, picking food up faster may still reduce how much bacteria it collects. There are a number of factors that come into play when determining whether or not the dropped food will make you sick if you eat it. The most important factors are: how contaminated the floor was, the type (and moisture content) of food, the type of floor surface, and the state of your immune system.
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