We never really questioned the "five-second rule" before, mostly because we still wanted to eat whatever delicious thing we just dropped on the floor. But it’s time to face the music: according to a new study by Rutgers University, bacteria can contaminate food that falls on the floor in less than a second. So the longer the contact time, the more contaminated the food will be.
The researchers also found two other factors to be critical: the type of food and surface. They tested four different foods -- watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy -- on four surfaces -- stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet. Watermelon had the highest contamination rate while gummy candy had the lowest, and surprisingly, carpet garnered the least contamination out of the various surfaces. Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science at Rutgers, told Rutgers Today, "Transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture. Bacteria don’t have legs -- they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer."
Your best bet based on these findings? Toss out the food you dropped. Of course, if you want to keep following the five-second rule, your secret's safe with us. But we will point you toward our guide to cleaning floors -- don't miss our best tips to keep them spotless!