The Five-Second Rule Debunked

Researchers Disprove the Thought




Joe Belanger/Shutterstock.com

The five-second rule is a belief that food that falls to the floor can be safely eaten as long as it’s picked up quickly. Researchers from Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, sought to test its veracity. Four different food items were tested, including watermelon, bread and butter, plain bread and gummy candy, using four different surfaces—stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet.

Each surface was contaminated by bacteria and completely dry before the scientists dropped each item for one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds. A total of 128 separate scenarios were repeated 20 times each and 2,560 measurements were taken and analyzed for contamination.

The results proved that longer contact time resulted in more bacterial contamination, but there were also cases of instantaneous contamination, which disproves the five-second rule. The wet surface of a watermelon yielded the most contamination and gummy candy the least. The surface tests yielded surprising results, with carpet transferring significantly fewer bacteria than tile and stainless steel, while wood floors exhibited varied results.


This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Eat Wheat Again

For the three in four Americans that suffer digestive distress, straightforward strategies—including eating whole wheat and grains—will rekindle normal digestive function and even restore full liver and gall bladder function.

Expect a Miracle

The miraculous enters our everyday lives when we are grateful, proactive, adventurous, generous and intuitive.

Harold Koeing on Why Science Finds Faith a Healthy Choice

People that have a strong faith enjoy better social, physical and mental health and possess a firm foundation to lean on in times of crisis, says the bestselling author.

Lutein in Greens and Eggs Slows Cognitive Aging

In a University of Illinois study, adults that ate large amounts of leafy greens, avocados and eggs had levels of lutein, a brain and eye nutrient, on par with younger people.

10 Daily Produce Servings Prevent Early Death

Yes, five servings a day of fruit and veggies is a good start, but what really prevents heart disease and cancer is 10 servings a day, a new study finds.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags