Admit it, many of you at some point in your life, followed the 5 second rule. For the few of you that live under that rock, it’s a long time expression used when a piece of food or candy is dropped on the floor, and if picked up within 5 seconds it is “clean”. What cracks me up is that one would usually call it out loud so they don’t come across as sleezy as they truly are for eating off the floor. But, then again, I admit doing it.


The NY Times reported about this recently, and Harold McGee refers to a scientific paper from Clemson University that he found to be both pioneering and hilarious.

The true pioneer of five second research was Julian Clarke, a high school intern at the University of Illinois in 2003. A survey she conducted proved that 50% of men and 70% of woman knew of the rule and many followed it.

She contaminated ceramic tiles with E. coli and experimented by placing gummy bears and cookies on the tiles for the 5 seconds and of course they became contaminated with bacteria.

But, would it really attract more bacteria the longer it lies on the floor?

Professor Paul L. Dawson and his colleagues continued on with the testing and ultimately found that it truly does…. slices of bologna and bread left for 5 seconds collected from 150 to 8,000 bacteria. Once left for a minute, the sandwich attracted more than 10 times the amount.

Sure these were highly contaminated test surfaces and your kitchen floor is much cleaner. But, what do these experiments tell us? A quick pick up in 5 seconds or less does help, but the food sure ain’t safe.

Me? I’d probably pull it on my Mom’s floors. They are so damn clean!!

Posted Monday, May 14th, 2007 at 10:18 pm
Filed Under Category: rhodyram
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Responses to “5 second rule”

The 5-Second-Rule Is BS, Say Scientists, Daily Wonder - How To Pedia

[…] There’s no reason to waste a perfectly good Cheeto just because it dropped on the kitchen floor, right? The “5-second-rule” makes it fair game if you can swipe it up fast enough (this doesn’t apply for liquids or foods with floor fuzz stuck to them.) But, is that errant piece of chocolate really safe after it’s mixed with the bacteria-laden mud from your shoe? Scientists at Clemson University validate what we’ve always known—the longer the food stays on the ground, the more bacteria-infested it becomes. However, the team also found that 99% of bacteria was transferred onto food within the first 5 seconds. Bad news for the 5 second rule. Click here to watch the videoThe scientists tested two different kinds of foods, bologna and bread, on three different kinds of surfaces: wood, tile, and carpet. In 5 seconds, wet bologna picked up a tiny bit more bacteria than dry bread. But, as it turns out, it matters less which kind of food you drop and more where you drop the food. Place determines not only how much bacteria but also what kind of bacteria get stuck on your munchies. Place matters.Wood and tile were more effective at transferring bacteria than carpet, probably because they’re smoother and have more area to touch your bologna sandwich. Certain germ-infested corners of your house give higher risk of making you ill like around your toilet and garbage can. That’s why your dining room is separate from your kitchen and bathroom in the first place. But, there’s some good news. Unless you’re floor is littered with garbage and dog poop, chances of your food landing in a super germ-infested area in your house is slim. That’s why you mop every once in a while. Of course, any time any bacteria is transferred, there is risk of gastrointestinal sickness. But, if it’s been a while since your last spring cleaning, you definitely don’t want to take the 5-second-chance. Photo by rhodyram […]

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