Dining

Ground Rules

Science proves whether or not the five-second rule is real
Photo: Rachel Glaves via Flickr
Strawberries

The five-second rule has our backs when we drop the last french fry on the floor or fumble the pass of the chip bowl to a friend. But is it also going to kill us?

Food scientist Paul Dawson wanted to set the record straight once and for all on everyone's favorite food-safety scapegoat. So he conducted an experiment a few years ago to compare how much bacteria transferred to pieces of bologna and bread after five, 30 and 60 seconds. Now, taking his results into consideration, as well as those of other recent studies, the voice of science is weighing in on the matter.

It turns out that yes, the amount of time food spends on the floor matters, but the more important factors are how dirty the floor is and which material the floor is made of. You're better off dropping food on carpet compared to a wood or tiled floor, which is a shame, considering few people deck out their kitchen with area rugs.

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Studies also found that temporally speaking, the initial hit is when the greatest contamination occurs, and further infestation drops off over time. This makes sense, unless you're repeatedly picking up and dropping the same pretzel for sport.

Keep the food on your plate, and no one gets hurt.

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