Is the 5 second rule real?

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. <>
Loyola University Health System. “Five-second rule has plenty of bugs, says expert.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <>.
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.

3 thoughts on “Is the 5 second rule real?

  1. Adelaide Christine Edgett

    I used to be a bit of a germaphobe back in high school, but I chalk that up to a nervous mother. As I entered college, I found that my standards for food we’re as high as they once were and I regret to admit that, depending on the floor, I will eat something that I dropped on it. In my mind, though, people try to prevent their exposure to germs too much. A healthy exposure to germs and such seems to create a pretty high immunity, though I’m no doctor.

  2. Nathan O'brien

    It is pretty coincidental that I have literally just seen an article somewhere stating that most doctors would still eat food even if they dropped it on the floor. I suppose that could be sort of anecdotal for them to say that just because they do not get sick from food on the floor, it does not mean that others will not get sick too. If the doctors can’t really back up their conclusions with data, they could be wrong. I think you did a great job analyzing the topic, though I think you could have gone a bit more in depth. You did an excellent job citing your sources in MLA format. Looking at multiple studies on this topic was a great idea but I think you could have tied it into what we are learning in class a little more. I could not find the exact article but I found one similar to the one I was talking about

  3. Lauren Eve Ribeiro

    Personally for me, I decide whether I want to eat food of the floor based on where I am. If i was in a public place I would in no way eat food off the floor, but if I am in my home, where I know my mom cleans often, I may be more likely to eat off the floor if it has only been a couple seconds. I think it is interesting that carpets have the lowest bacteria transfer rate because it seems that little pieces of dirt are more likely to get stuck in a carpet and that it would be more difficult to clean carpet than to simply mop up a floor.

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