Is the 5-Second Rule Valid?

by in Food Safety, December 1, 2011
candy on floor
It was just on the floor for a few seconds, can you eat it?

I’ve heard of the 5-second, 10-second and even 30-second rule. You drop food on the floor and if you pick it up in time, then it’s okay to eat. Is this a safe rule to live by?

For the Love of Bacteria!
One of the most disgusting cases I’ve seen is a pacifier dropped on the New York subway floor. The mom picked it up, stuck it in her own mouth to clean and then right in the baby’s mouth. The pacifier was on the floor for about 5 seconds, but that’s enough time for bacteria to cling to food (or in this case a pacifier).

Bacteria love protein and carb-based foods that are moist and not too acidic. This includes foods like meat, chicken, eggs, dairy, cooked vegetables and cooked pasta. Once bacteria is on a food they love, they can double their number every 20 minutes—this means, one bacterium can become over 1 billion in about 10 hours, which is more than enough to get someone sick.

If you think acidic foods like lemons and tomatoes are safer foods, think again. In 2002, an outbreak of salmonella was reported from participants in the U.S. Transplant Games held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The culprit was thought to be Roma tomatoes.

What You Can’t See
To most people, the textbook definition of clean means that something is free of visible dirt. But although your floor may appear to be clean, it can still have plenty of invisible microorganisms dancing around. You use chemicals to sanitize your floor to remove most of the harmful germs. But certain bacteria and viruses (like the infamous cruise-ship Norovirus) can still survive on surfaces for months. If you’re thinking you can “cook it out”—it’s important to know that some pathogens can survive in very cold and very hot temperatures.

The Most Vulnerable
Although you may not get sick each time you eat off the floor, the very young and very old have a weaker immune system and are more susceptible to illness. This is also one habit you don’t want to teach your kids. Imagine dining out with friends and having your child dive on the floor every time food is dropped—pretty embarrassing, to say the very least.

The Verdict
You may have eaten food off the floor in the past and gotten lucky. Or maybe you’ve had a little diarrhea and just didn’t put two and two together. If you want to be safe, then live by these words: when in doubt, toss it out.

You Might Also Like:

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

More posts from .

Similar Posts

5 Chicken Kitchen Safety Tips

After close to 300 people became sick from salmonella in 18 states, this Monday the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert. The culprit is raw chicken produced at three Foster Farms facilities in California. Luckily, proper handling of poultry can help prevent illness.

Comments (75)

  1. Baju Bayi says:

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about Is the 5-Second Rule Valid? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  2. Google says:

    the time to study or visit the material or sites we have linked to below the

  3. Google says:

    check below, are some absolutely unrelated internet sites to ours, nonetheless, they may be most trustworthy sources that we use

  4. Yοur ѕtyle iѕ νery uniquе in comparison to othег ρeoρle I have
    reaԁ stuff from. Thanκs for рostіng when уou’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.

  5. AVJ047 Say, you got a nice blog post.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  6. Elden says:

    My family all the time say that I am wasting my time here at web, however I know I am getting know-how all the time by reading such good articles
    or reviews.

  7. I am glad to be a visitor of this perfect site ! , thankyou for this rare info ! .

  8. chromowanie says:

    Grubos’c’ pow?oki 01-10 µm, na podwarstwie niklu galwanicznego

  9. Excellent post. I agree with writer totally, especially last section. Keep publishing such good articles.

  10. These are genuinely fantastic ideas in regarding blogging. You have touched some nice points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>