Think twice before eating off the floor

We all have been through the trauma of dropping a food that we are so excited to eat on the floor. We also have all been through those five seconds debating whether to pick it up and eat it, or throw it away. The thought of eating it is due to the “5 second rule” that is drilled into our heads. “Oh you can still eat it, theres a 5 second rules” “Oh my god pick it up quickly! 5 second rule!” These are common phrases amongst people who see people drop something they are about to eat. Before you bend down and pick up what you dropped, think again. A recent study has shown that the 5 second rule is a myth and disproved. It just so happens that bacteria can transfer from a surface to food instantaneously.

Researchers of the School of Environmental and biological Science at Rutgers University conducted experiments to test the truth of the 5 second rule. In the study researchers tested four different surfaces, stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet. Along with the surfaces, four different types of foods were tested, watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy. There was also four contact times, less than one second, five, 30, and 300 seconds. Two medias were used, tryptic soy broth or peptone buffer they aided the growth of Enterobacter aerogenes, a “cousin” of Salmonella.

Multiple transmission scenarios were assessed for each food type, surface type, contact time, and bacterial preparation. The surfaces were fully dried before the samples of food were dropped and vaccinated with bacteria. There were 128 different scenarios that were repeated 20 times, leading to 2,560 measurements. Due to the moisture, watermelon turned out to attract the most bacteria. The gummy candy absorbed the least amount of bacteria. From the study we can tell that the more wet the food is and the longer the contact time, usually leads to more contamination of the food product. Here is a video of Dr. Oz testing out this theory!

So, is there really harm in eating food off the floor? It depends on the the factors of the situation including, what type of food, what type of surface, contact time, and even the type of organism that transfers on to the food. No matter the circumstance, when a piece of food falls on any surface, for any amount of time, bacteria will be transferred, but the amount and type that is, will be different every time. You can drop a gummy bear on a clean tile floor for one second and a minuscule amount of bacteria can be transferred that it can not even be harmful. But, is it worth the risk? To be safe and not be infected with unnecessary germs, do not eat food that has fallen on the floor, and disregard the 5 second rule.

3 thoughts on “Think twice before eating off the floor

  1. Daniella Cappello

    I find eating off of the floor to be disgusting, but I see people doing it on the daily. It is interesting to know that it depends on the type of food and what not. Prior to reading this article I assumed that dropping any piece of food on any type of surface just meant that the food was now dirty and ready to be thrown away. The video included was additionally very interesting.

  2. Olivia Watkins

    Awesome article. This is something so relatable. I am not overly cautious about germs but, I am occasionally picky when I see doors that just look like the flu virus is on there. Obviously, bathrooms are the number one committer of this crime. I’m at the point where if I see someone not washing their hands, I’ll call them out because there is already enough bacterial stuff in the air to get everyone sick, there is no need to bring more (especially if it can be prevented). Back to your article, the study that you provided was well done and very informative. Absolutely, depends on the food and the material it touches. Interesting about the watermelon, I honestly would have thought that the outside covering would be some sort of protection. There is a study out there that suggest cookies follow the “5 second rule”. Now that the weather is getting colder and people are getting sicker, I’ll go head and listen to your advice and just throw it away.

  3. Jordan Crawford

    The classic five second rule. This is a good blog because everyone can relate to this. The articals and studies you used were every good. The study tested all aspects of the five second rule, food type, suface, contact time, and more. You can’t get much more through than that. The 128 different scenarios in the study take away most possibilites of can and error on the scientist part. There still is a chance, but it is very low. This was a good blog based on great research by the scientist behind it.

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