Have you dropped food on the floor, scrambled to pick it up and continued eating it because of the five-second rule? All those who are aware of the five second rule have done it. For those who aren't aware of it, here's an explainer.
According to a new research, the five-second rule might actually be true. Five second rule states that food dropped on the floor will not be contaminated if it is picked up within five seconds from being dropped.
Food scientist, Paul Dawson from Clemson University studied how quickly food picks up bacteria when it falls on the floor. It was found that the less time food spends on the floor, the less germs it gets.
Where did the five seconds rule originate?
Popular American chef, author and television personality Julia Child, known for bringing French cuisine to the Americans, in one of her cooking shows drops a potato pancake on the stovetop and gracefully puts it back on the pan, saying, 'you can always pick it up and if you are alone in the kitchen, who is going to see?'
Paul Dawson in the article says that its hard to pin point the origins of the rule, but a 2003 study by Jillian Clarke of Illinois University reports that women are more aware of the five second rule and are more likely to eat food that is fallen on the floor than men.
Food scientists at the Clemson University did a detailed research on the length of time food takes to get contaminated when it comes in contact with a surface that is unhygienic.
For this experiment they inoculated the floor with Salmonela bacteria and placed a bread on the surface for roughly 30 seconds to see the amount of bacteria which entered the food. They continued the experiment by placing the food at longer intervals - 1 to 8 to 24 hours.
The study found the duration didn't matter, but the overall amount of bacteria present on the floor mattered more. The study also says that the surface where the food is dropped makes a huge difference. The rate at which bacteria enters the food on a carpet flooring is slower than tiles or wooden flooring.
So, should you go ahead with the five second rule?
The research suggests that from safety point of view just 0.1% of bacteria on the floor is enough to make you fall ill. The presence of virulent Bacteria like the E.Coli could result in severe sickness or even death among people with a weak immune system. But the presence of this bacteria on most surfaces is relatively low.
Bacteria doesn't exist just on the surface of the floor. Utensils, moist surfaces, even our hands carry different types of bacteria. And some bacteria are also known to have an enhanced resistance against your hand sanitizers and antibiotics.
Eating dropped food is generally considered to be safe. There are other factors which could contribute to illness. Make sure that the floor isn't too dirty.
The best option is to always sanitize your hands, floor and utensils and most of all, to have steady hands while you are eating!