Admit it – we’ve all accidentally dropped a tasty snack on the ground and then cited the ‘five second rule’ as a reason to still pick them and put it in our mouths.
But, according to food safety experts, we should think twice about eating anything that’s fallen to the floor – even if it’s just for a few seconds because according to the Food Safety Information Council spokeswoman, Rachelle Williams,
There’s no such thing as a five second rule. It’s a myth. We definitely do not recommend it.”
All is not lost, however. Let’s face it, if you drop a ginger nut on the carpet or crackers in the kitchen, you’re probably still going to scoff them even if that’s still not advised, however, some says it is much safer to eat than a sausage that’s fallen to the floor.
It all comes down to bacteria. Bacteria relies on moisture to grow, so any wet food is considered potentially hazardous. It’s much easier for bacteria to grow on those foods. With dry foods, it is conversely much tougher for bacteria to grow,” explained Williams.
Now let’s think about the type of surface you drop food on – a smooth surface or a carpet.
Research from the University of Illinois in 2007 found it was definitely possible for bacteria to transfer onto food within five seconds, however, the type of floor and cleanliness of the floor should be considered as a big factor.
They determined that bacteria is less likely to be picked up by food that’s dropped on a carpet or rug than a smooth surface. Research found that carpets containing Salmonella transferred less than 1% of bacteria onto food dropped onto it.
Compare that to the 48-70% transferred onto food dropped on a smooth floor, like wooden or tiled, and you’ll never eat from your kitchen floor again!
And before you think you’ve got the constitution of an ox, the study found that you only need to pick up 0.1% bacteria from the millions sitting on a surface to make you sick. Research concluded that bacteria can be picked up in just three seconds. So you might want to rethink that five second rule you keep on your mind.
Therefore, if you drop something and consider eating it, do so at your peril. Whatever it is, it’ll instantly have bacteria on it – even if it’s just a tiny amount.