← News Sep 16th 2016

The 5 Second Rule Seems to Be a Lie

Jessy meme

Avid believers in the 5-second rule are about to be disappointedyet again. This time for real. The five second rule is just a myth. Another team of researchers has dug really deep to answer the questions is the 5 second rule true,and backed up the findings by science, not just random speculation.

If you don't know it, the five second rule refers to food that is dropped on the floor, and if it gets picked up within five seconds, no bacteria will be on it, and it's still safe for eating. This has for long brought satisfaction to many foodies out there, but unfortunately the truth has been revealed and bacteria seem to be faster than we all think. Team of researchers from Rutgers University started their research because this notion was so widespread, yet there was no scientific proof that this is actually true. Here's what they found out and how.

The Experiment

The experiment revolving around the 5 second rule was performed on several different surfaces such as stainless steel, carpet, wood and ceramic tiles. Researches threw different types of food on these surfaces, like watermelon gummy candies, buttered or dry bread.

They developed, simply put, a safe kind of Salmonella in the lab and covered the surfaces with it. The experiments entailed dropping the food on the floor, and leaving it for different amounts of time, which varied from 1 second to 300 seconds. In total there were 128 different scenarios that were repeated several times to measure contamination and gather all the data. So what did they find out?


The transfer of bacteria mainly depends on how moist the food actually is. If you drop something on the floor that's fairly moist a lot of bacteria are going to flock and stick to it. This is because bacteria have no legs and they move with moisture. Therefore, studies have shown that foods such as candy and watermelon had the highest level of bacteria on them, while drier foods like bread, less.

Surface Type

Another important factor was the surface the food was dropped on. Carpet seems to be the safest surface to drop your food on, as its structure actually prevents full contact with the surface. Although there's a popular belief that carpet can be unsanitary, in this particular instance, it's one of the safest options. There is still bacteria contamination happening, just in a lesser extent than on other surfaces such as wood flooring or ceramic tiles.

Time Period

The longer the food is on the ground, more bacteria will transfer from the surface to the food. And that's a fact. Although, it does take some time for bacteria to pile up, five seconds is still enough for bacteria to find home in your food and transfer from the surface onto your dropped food. Bacteria doesn't wait. In fact, contamination can even happen in the same moment your food touches the ground.

Now that you've read their scientific findings, are you still ready to behave according to this popular rule, or are you going to believe in science and change your hygiene habits accordingly? Although our popular convictions can sometimes be fun, and save us a few more bites of our favorite food, are we risking our health for a fun judgment that's not based on facts? Think about it.

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