The Five-second Rule

I can not remember how many times I have witnessed someone drop their food on the floor, pick it up, and blame their continuation to eat the food on the "5 second rule". THAT IS NOT A VALID EXCUSE! As fast as you may pick the food up, the food is already covered in thousands and thousands of germs that are impossible to see with your naked eye. To some people, it's easy to look past the potential diseases that they can contract in those short 5 seconds because they can not physically see any of the germs that got on the food. Don't be fooled; they are there and just as harmful as the germs found on a toilet seat.

This was proven in 2003 when Jillian Clarke (University of Illinois) covered the floor with e. Coli bacteria, dropped food on the floor, and picked it up quickly.  She found that the bacteria did in fact attract to the food. Here is more on this experiment. 
In 2007, scientists at Clemson University discovered that the longer food is on the ground, the more germs attract to it.  For example, food dropped for 5 seconds had traces of anywhere from 150 to 8,000 bacteria while food dropped for a whole minute had as much as 10 times that amount of bacteria.  This being said, 5 seconds may be better than a minute, but all it takes to contract an illness is 10 strains of bacteria so, both are very harmful.

According to Ruth Frechman, M.A., R.D., it can take 24 hours to a week for any symptoms to show up.  This means that because the time the food was picked up off the floor and the time when you start to get sick is so spread out, people rarely remember how they could have gotten sick in the first place.  This is why people have little awareness about how risky the 5-second rule truly is, because they don't associate the two events as being related.   

This myth has even been featured on episodes of Mythbusters and Food Detectives. Both shows found the rule to be false.

Let's be honest, we have probably all committed this crime in our lives. It's hard to let a perfectly baked chocolate chip go to waste, but in reality, the risks involved are not worth it.  More people should be aware of this common misconception because one bite of that delicious, fallen cookie could land your head in the toilet.



Like many of us, I have fallen victim to blaming it on the five second rule. Here in my dorm I won't eat anything that has fallen on the floor, but at home, is a different story. I tend to think since I am at home that my floor is cleaner and therefore if I drop something I can still eat it. This as you just proved is something that I should probably stop. Like you said it is very tempting to want to eat that delicious cookie that just fell or maybe even those few goldfish. This also made me think about restaurants. Do they give into the five second rule? I did some research and found that some restaurants are more likely to allow the serving of food that has been on the floor for a few seconds. This really grossed me out so I am reconsidering where I eat. Below is a link to where I got this information.

This is very surprising to me. I have always been a believer in the five second rule especially when a valuable piece of food fell to the ground. This blog broke my heart because it means that I have to start wasting food that I drop to the ground. Thank you for your insight. Check out this article that still leaves a little bit of hope for people out there who believe(d) in the five second rule.
Amanda, I worked at a restaurant and I have seen first hand people drop food on the ground then pick it up and serve it to customers. It is sickening and makes me never go to a restaurant along with other things that I have witnessed while working there.

I think we can all agree that the five second rule has applied to us mostly while at home, not at school! I think this is such a good topic to blog about because it's something we can all relate to, even though according to your findings, it's definitely something we should all be avoiding. As for the previous comment about restaurants and the five second rule - I don't even want to think about it... I was a waitress over the summer and after seeing how some of my co-workers handled food, I would have almost rather gone by the five second rule. Just imagine the bacteria that's on a strangers hands:

I have been following the five-second rule for as long as I can remember. Part of me has always known there was no validity in the claim but I still clung to that tiny bit of hope that maybe it was true. Now that I know for sure that it isn't legitimate I'm a little let down but mostly disgusted thinking about the amount of bacteria and germs that I have probably eaten by abiding to the five-second rule. I decided to look further into just how bad the five second rule actually is for you and I cam across this website ( This article continues to stress the point that science has found that the five second rule can make you really REALLY sick.

Are you less likely to pick up a disease in your own home if you follow the five second rule? I know that in my house, the five second rule isn't a big deal; it's my floor, in my house, covered in MY germs. Is it plausible that a person has built up resistance to the germs already inside their house, therefore making them less susceptible to picking up the actual disease? Obviously there are some exceptions, but "foreign" bacteria in a public place or someone else's house would seem, in my mind, to be more harmful than that which a person has been exposed to nearly 24/7 and possibly already fought off. That's something that I would definitely like to look into!

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