The 5-Second rule assumes that food or cutlery dropped on the floor will remain bacteria free if retrieved within the allotted 5 seconds. A food-specialist at Rutgers University put the theory to the test. The results may change the rule in your house.

Researchers at the University were led by Donald Schaffner, a professor and extension specialist in food science. They used 4 different foods, watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy. Then dropped them on four different surfaces, stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet. To add deeper research, scientists varied the length of time the food was on the floor, less than 1 second, 5 seconds, 30 seconds and 300 seconds.

The findings:

Bacteria transferred to the food immediately upon hitting the floor. The longer it remained on the floor, the more bacteria accumulated.

Being the wettest food, Watermelon collected the most bacteria and had the most contamination of the four foods tested. This was not surprising since the wetter the food, the higher the risk of bacteria transfer. Bread and bread and butter performed very similarly, while the gummy candy picked up the least contamination.

A surprising result from the surface tests or at least a surprise in my mind. Carpeting had the lowest transfer rates. While stainless steel, ceramic tile, and wood performed nearly the same.

Researchers concluded that the 5-second rule is a myth, there is bacteria transfer no matter how long the food is on the floor. Although the rate of transfer increases with time, it's still not very sanitary even if grabbed in less than a second. You can read more on their research at the Rutger website. This is the in-depth research results from the test.

In our house, the 5-Second rule will remain the same, You have about 5 seconds to get it before the dog does. What's the 5-second rule in your home?


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