Five-Second Rule: Nothing But A Myth
July 30, 2013

Five-Second Rule: Nothing But A Myth

When we were young, we all believed in things we only joke about now. Things like Santa Claus, being a black belt meant being invincible, swimming after eating gives you cramps (which you can get, but it’s not the solely the fault of the food), and the Easter Bunny are things that we have each had to add to our “ myth list.” The list has not been completed however, science has now added on more: the five-second rule.

As depressing as that sounds, it is true. The five-second rule is a complete myth. As it turns out, even if you are the Flash, you can’t prevent germs and bacteria from attaching to your food after it has touched the ground or another dirty surface. According to Dr. Paul Dawson, the contact time makes no difference in the transfer of germs onto food. Dr. Dawson and his team made many tests to prove this five-second rule as a myth.

To prove his statement, Dr. Dawson and his team took dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and spread them on various surfaces, such as floors or table tops. Then the team purposefully dropped various foods on the surfaces and picked them up before five seconds or less. The results were all the same. No matter how little or how long the pieces of food had been on the contaminated surfaces, they all had the bacteria on them.

This experiment encouraged others that were similar. Since then, many people have proven with different experiments that picking up a piece of food before five seconds just will not make a difference on the transferring of germs onto the food.

So what can actually happen if you eat the food? Well, see, that’s where it starts to depend on the person and what germs and bacteria they are consuming. Some people will feel nothing at all; some may just get stomachaches, while on the other side of the spectrum, people with really sensitive stomachs and/or immune systems might even experience kidney failure.

Eating a piece of food that has touched a questionable surface, (table, kitchen counter etc…) is kind of like not wearing a seat belt when you are in a car. You could go your entire life not wearing a seat belt and be completely fine, or you could not wear a seat belt for one day and get into a life threatening accident. In a sense, eating dropped food is a bit of a gamble. So next time you drop something, just remember you might be gambling your life. Just be cautious, clean your area, but always enjoy your food.

Image Credit: David B Wilson / Shutterstock

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