Does the "Five-second Rule" ensure that dropped food is still edible?
By Daryn Eller for Live Right Live Well
Though it may be accepted wisdom, the five-second rule, which says that food picked up before it’s been on the floor for more than five seconds, doesn’t pan out when put to scientific test. In a 2007 study, researchers at Clemson University looked at how quickly salmonella bacteria (a common cause of food poisoning) made their way onto bologna and bread when the food was dropped on contaminated tile, wood and carpet. The surprising results: the bologna and bread were tainted almost immediately and -- perhaps not as surprising -- the longer they lay amidst the bacteria, the more contaminated they got.
While the study was simulated (the researchers used flooring that they contaminated themselves rather than dropping the food on an actual, walked-on floor), it should give you pause before eating any food that’s hit the ground. “Bacteria are on nearly all surfaces, including floors,” says the study’s lead researcher Paul Dawson, Ph.D., a professor of food science at Clemson. But what about the home with proverbial “floors so clean you can eat off of them”? Still not a good idea. Microscopic layers called biofilms form around bacteria, which often allows them to survive, even on what seem to be immaculate surfaces. “Some floors might appear clean, but since they are constantly walked upon, they are not likely to be clean enough to eat off,” says Dawson.
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