The “Five-Second Rule”
Recently, several research studies have been getting press for their examination of the mythical “Five-second rule” (aka “10-second rule”). These ‘rules’ suggests that food dropped on the floor is okay to eat if picked up before 5, or 10, seconds. Across the board, the studies have demonstrated that, even in five seconds, dropped food can pick up bacteria and pathogens. Some questions remain, however.
For example, in one of the studies, the surfaces onto which the food was dropped had been prepped by swabbing them with either live E. coli or salmonella cultures. Then they dropped both a piece of bread and a piece of bologna onto the surfaces. One might ask – who even needs to do that study? It would be comparable to dropping your food into a raw animal carcass – which, in case you do, don’t eat it. So, unless you are mopping the floor with raw chicken…
The most recent study coming out against the five-second rule happens to have been funded by the good people at Clorox, makers of surface cleaners and disinfectants. This is called corporate research, a sector where the results tend to be among the most specious. Here the problem is not study design, but study bias – obviously Clorox stands to gain from disproving the rule.
In the meantime, the validity of the ‘five-second rule’ has reasonably been called into question; although the real question may be “how clean are my floors?” If in doubt, throw it out.