Turns out the “five second rule” may need a more accurate moniker – like “five second myth”…
Through lab testing, MythBusters, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, showed that in less than one second on the floor, your cookie could become the carrier for a host of bacteria.
One test by Dr. Cutler, a microbiologist at of the University of London, measured the amount of E. coli bacteria that collected on food during zero, five, and ten seconds on the floor. “The five-second rule has little effect on the amount of bacteria you would pick up from a heavily contaminated surface,” he reported. Why? Because no matter how short the timespan food was on the ground, each bite was considerably covered in germs. Bon appetit!
Another factor that contributes to the amount of bacteria that dropped food collects is dryness vs. moisture of both the food and the floor. In other words, if a dry snack (like a cracker) falls on a dry floor, your chance of salmonella poisoning is lower, because most pathogens can’t live without moisture. On the other hand, if you drop a juicy strawberry on the wet kitchen counter where contaminants like salmonella thrive, your chances of getting sick could increase.
Across the board, researchers agree: if you’re not sure about it, don’t eat it!
Image: Cookie Crumbs, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Werwin15’s photostream.