quick microbe fix: the 5 second rule

Check out this explanation in the New York Times science section of the 5 second rule. For the record, this will not stop me from eating fallen food off the floor. But that's just now I roll.

More like this

tags: five-second rule, food, bacteria, microbiology Have you ever heard of the five-second rule, where you can pick up food that has fallen on the floor within five seconds and eat it without risk of illness? Do you follow it? In 2003, a then-high school science intern at the University of…
Student guest post by Jay Watson We've all been there at some point before: a hot summer day, your delicious ice cream cone or tasty treat, and that uneven sidewalk. After taking about ten steps away from the vendor, you mistakenly put your foot into a gigantic fault in the sidewalk and…
Microbiologist develop some strange habits when it comes to food. Some take a fatalistic approach. They reason that microbes are everywhere, we're going to die anyway, we might as well eat dirt and make antibodies. You know these people. They quote things like the "10 second rule" when food…
It seems like everybody with a blog has put up a live-blogging/ open comment thread about the election. I can't really type fast enough to compete in this sort of thing, and anyway, it seems cruel to leave foreigners and apolitical types out of the fun. So, for the benefit of those who can't vote…

The 2004 Ig Nobel Prize for Public Health was awarded for a study on this topic...

By Andrew G. (not verified) on 02 Mar 2011 #permalink

Me too; but I wash it off if I can, or at least blow any noticeable dust off of it. ;-) Haven't been sick yet, or died... maybe later...

Anyway, it's just one of those useless `sayings' that is both true and false, isn't it, depending on the detail.

From the article...

"In general, if there are bacteria on the floor, they will cling to the food nearly immediately on contact"

So keep your floor clean.

"...researchers tested salmonella placed on wood, tile or carpet, and dropped bologna on the surfaces for 5, 30 or 60 seconds. With both wood and tile, more than 99 percent of the bacteria were transferred nearly immediately..."

So bologna removes 99% of bacteria from hard surfaces?! Works almost as well as lysol!

Do kitchens really have salmonella lying around? I honestly don't the know answer and I'd be interested in the answer. I sort of assumed that you'd only have salmonella if you were sloppy with the uncooked poultry. Or reptiles.

By NoAstronomer (not verified) on 02 Mar 2011 #permalink

Depends on when, where and whose floor I drop it on. My floor, recently cleaned, I eat it without hesitation. I figure my body is familiar with those germs. If it falls into the dark hole beside my stove ... no. It isn't just germs, even though that would be reason enough, it also has to do with the seldom cleaned nature of the area and the fact that it gets sprayed with pesticides regularly.

Other peoples floors, depends. It I'm sleeping with the lady I don't eat it. Even though we have pretty much had an encyclopedic exchange of germs and bodily fluids. Eating it off the floor would be crass and unrefined. Wait until I'm married a few months. Then the full extent of my crassness can be revealed. And, of course, once you have kids, any pretenses of cleanliness, order and decorum are right out the door.

I have an issue with this sentence:

...and the time the food sits on the floor does not change the risk.

Sure, taken in context, you can assume that he meant the timescale between 0 and 10sec or so, but if I leave food on the floor for a few days, I'm pretty sure the risk of contamination is higher.

@3 you might be interested in this post. Not sure about salmonella in particular though.