The Truth Behind the 5-Second Rule

5_Second_RulewpzDetail400We’ve all been there, but few of us will admit it. When food falls on the floor and you want to eat it – what is the danger that is really involved? Until now, we’ve only been able to rely on the common-sense logic of the famous “5-Second Rule” that dictates that any food that’s spent less than five seconds on the floor is still clean enough for consumption. Is there any truth behind it?

New research dissects the logic behind the popular method.

How dirty are your floors?

Research conducted by Dr. Charles Gerba at the University of Arizona discovered that 90 percent of his test subjects were walking around with some level of fecal matter on the bottom of their shoes, alongside an array of other utterly disgusting substances.

That said, let’s address fallen food:

1. Matter of Time

Aston University researcher Anthony Hilton argues that the less time food spends on the floor, the fewer bacteria it is likely to pick up. Every second is precious! Recent experiments show that for each second spent on the floor, food can gather bacteria exponentially. The Journal of Applied Microbiology reported that food that spent five minutes on the floor was found to carry up to 8,000 different types of microbes. Bacteria, however, appear as soon as the food falls, so prevention remains the best form of defense.

2. Flooring choices

If you’re the kind of person who drops a lot of delicious food, you might want to consider investing in an oriental rug. The study concluded that hardwood, ceramic, linoleum and stone surfaced floors preserve and transfer more bacteria than a carpet.

3. Sugar is sweeter

It turns out that ostensibly-healthier foods – those with less sugar and salt – attract more germs. Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University tested a variety of foods for bacteria after they had spent varying lengths of time on the floor of the lab.

Ham, the saltiest, and jam, the sweetest, carried the fewest microbes; dried fruit and cooked pasta, however, were smothered in all kinds of nasty germs, including especially-dangerous types that can cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and all sorts of illnesses.

4. Slippery when wet

The findings of Hilton’s research team get even more specific. Dry foods are safer, once fallen, than wet or sticky foods like pasta, pizza, Jello, cheese or candy. These types of foods can make nearly 20% more surface contact than dry foods, thereby gathering much more bacteria!