Does the five second rule have any truth to it? Rutgers University says “No.” Scientists at Rutgers University have confirmed that food dropped on the floor doesn’t just get dirty, but actually picks up bacteria. The transfer of bacteria is largely related to how much bacteria is on the floor and how much moisture is in the dropped food.
This study agrees with a 2014 study written by Loyola University’s health system that claims that even if you wash the food after it touches the floor, it will still have bacteria. The Director of Infection Prevention at Loyola University says that everything that comes in contact with a surface will pick up bacteria that live there. How much bacteria depends entirely on the surface you placed it on.
Oddly, scientists at Aston University confirmed that picking up food sooner is less likely to contain bacteria. Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University said eating food off the ground still carries a risk of infections depending on what type of bacteria is on floor but the actual transfer of bacteria was influenced by the amount of time the food was on the floor, along with other factors. Researchers went so far as to determine that carpets have the lowest risk of transferring bacteria, immediately followed by indoor flooring surfaces.
All three studies essentially reached the same conclusion: If your food falls on the floor, bacteria attach right away. Don’t eat it unless you don’t mind eating contaminated food.
Aston University. “Dropped your toast? Five-second food rule exists, new research suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102212.htm>
Loyola University Health System. “Five-second rule has plenty of bugs, says expert.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718143602.htm>.
Rutgers University. “Researchers debunk ‘five-second rule’: Eating food off the floor isn’t safe: Sometimes bacteria transfer in less than a second.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2016.