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The (Obvious) Truth About the 5-Second Rule [VIDEO]

The five-second rule is more than just a myth — it could be bad for our health. But how long does it actually take for the floor to ruin our food?
The (Obvious) Truth About the 5-Second Rule [VIDEO]
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A recent video that’s racked up four million views and counting is really making me regret eating the apple I dropped on the floor. V Sauce creator and host Michael Stevens dives into the “five-second rule” myth to see if food on the floor can be spared if picked up in a flash.

The answer? Well, nope. Stevens discusses evidence from a study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology that tested the five-second rule. Researchers examined the survival of salmonella placed on wood, tile, and carpet after bologna was dropped on the ground. They found bacteria were transferred almost immediately to the deli meat from each surface [1]. What’s worse: After five seconds, the bologna adhered up to 8,000 bacteria. After a minute, that number increased tenfold.

Why It Matters

The notion that the five-second rule is (literally and figurately) full of bologna is nothing new. The study dates back to 2007, and various outlets have uncovered its findings since — including Myth Busters. So why all the reincarnated banter? Perhaps it’s Stevens’ discussion beyond the study findings that reel in the viewer. He goes into the science behind how bacteria on a dirty floor can stick to food (molecules act like magnets) and how long it may actually take for food to become contaminated (could it actually take one femtosecond, or one quadrillionth of a second?). He shares other fun facts too: 70 percent of women tend to stick to the five-second rule, while only 50 percent of men do. 

The video also reminds us that just because the floor may look clean, that doesn’t mean our fallen food is safe. Floors come into contact with shoes, 93 percent of which are contaminated with fecal bacteria. (Yeah…gross.) So it doesn’t hurt that millions of people are tuning in to be reminded that this longtime myth is just that — a myth. With the amount of bacteria that can find its way onto food almost instantly, it’s not worth the risk of eating unwanted germs and bacteria with a side of fries.

Photo: Bigstock

Works Cited +

  1. Residence time and food contact time effects on transfer of Salmonella Typhimurium from tile, wood and carpet: testing the five-second rule. Dawson, P, Han, I, Cox, M., et al. Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2007 Apr;102(4):945-53.

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