Who hasn’t dropped some food on the floor and still wanted to eat it? If someone saw you drop it, he or she might have yelled, “5-second rule! Or you may have said it to yourself” The 5-second “rule” says food is OK to eat if you pick it up in 5 seconds or less.
Believe it or not, scientists have tested the rule and…it’s not necessarily true. Bacteria can attach itself to your food even if you pick it up within 5 seconds. But will your dropped food contain enough bacteria to make you sick? It’s possible — and that’s why you shouldn’t eat food that has hit the floor.
Just because the floor looks clean doesn’t mean it is. A floor that looks dirty is usually worse, but even dry floors that look clean can contain bacteria because some germs can survive on the floor for a long time. And unless you have a powerful microscope, you can’t check to see how many germs are there. So chances are, some bacteria are probably living on your kitchen floor and the cafeteria floor at school.
Faster is better. A piece of food will pick up more bacteria the longer it spends on the floor. So food left there for 5 seconds or less will probably collect fewer bacteria than food sitting there for a longer time. But fast may not be fast enough. Bacteria can attach to your food as soon as it hits the floor. So even if food is left on the floor for just a quick second it can get contaminated if conditions are right. And foods with wet surfaces, like an apple slice, can pick up bacteria even more easily.
When in doubt, throw it out. You can’t see the bacteria and, even if you could, it doesn’t take much to make you sick. So what about that delicious looking bite of whatever that just hit the deck? The safest choice is to throw it out. Or give it to your brother. Just kidding…