Sorry To Break It To You, But The Five-Second Rule Is Actually Really, Really Gross

Step away from that dropped brownie.

Five Second Rule

Picture the scene: you’ve just purchased a double chocolate and raspberry brownie: a treat so drool-worthy, it’s borderline sexual, and then Oops! You’ve only gone and dropped it onto the damn ground.

Obviously, the proper thing to do would be to toss said brownie into the bin (along with your good mood) but instead, if you’re anything like us, you’ll abide by the five-second rule and hastily grab it off the ground before it’s had time to get properly dirty, dust it off and pop it in your gob.

Crisis averted, right?

Um, wrong. See, Dr Paul Dawson, a food science professor at Clemson University, decided to test how much bacteria is transferred from floor to food in five seconds, as opposed to a longer period of time, and unfortunately for serial food droppers everywhere, the results are a total downer.

Dr Dawson started his experiment by contaminating kitchen tiles, wooden floors and carpet with Salmonella. Then, after five minutes he dropped food on the surface for five, 30 and 60 seconds.

After this he did the same test on the same surfaces two, four, eight and 24 hours later. At the end of each test he measured the amount of bacteria that had been transferred from the floor onto the food.

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Unfortunately, the results speak for themselves. The length of time the food was left on the floor didn’t matter, with tiles and wooden floors being the worst offenders, transferring between 48% and 70% of bacteria.

Blowing on the food doesn’t help to rid it of floor germs either. In fact, Dr Dawson says that the idea is “far-fetched”, quoting recent stats that showed a dropped food that had been blown on had virtually the same amount of bacteria per milliliter as a dropped food that hadn’t been blown on.

Does this mean that from now on we’ll Do The Right Thing and pop our ill-fated snacks in the bin? Er, we highly doubt it.

After all, a little bacteria never hurt anyone, right? RIGHT?


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