Five Second Rule: Myth or Fact?
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Five Second Rule: Myth or Fact?

Toast typically lands jelly side down.Most of you have probably heard about the “five second rule" -- if a piece of food or a utensil hits the ground and stays there for five seconds or less, it's still acceptable to eat/use. What’s your guess? Do you think it’s a fact or a myth? With two young boys in the house, I don’t think a day goes by that food doesn’t fall on the floor!  When a cracker hits the floor, it’s common for someone to pick it up as fast as you can and say, “It’s still good, five second rule!” Most people pick the cracker up and try to “blow off” the bacteria.

Sorry to break it to you, but that actually doesn’t work.

A new study conducted by Dr. Jorge Parada of Loyola University Health System now shows that as soon as that cracker hits the ground it is already contaminated with bacteria. However, Parada does explain that there are different levels of contamination. He states that it does make a difference in what type of object hits the ground and what type of surface it hits. For example, there’s a difference in how much a dry cracker is contaminated compared to a piece of steamed broccoli. Obviously the wetter the food, the more it will pick up.  Are you really that motivated to eat broccoli that hit the floor anyway? (Chocolate, on the other hand...) 

Sometimes people will even try to rinse it off but that doesn’t even completely sanitize the object. Eating food that’s hit the floor can be a problem because the contamination can cause a variety of illnesses, depending on the degree of the bacteria.  Be sure to keep yourself and your family safe by following these tips to avoid food borne illnesses:

  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t eat anything that has been dropped on the ground
  • Use separate cutting boards for different types of food
  • Wash surfaces and utensils often
  • Wash fruits and veggies
  • Use food thermometers when cooking
  • Thaw foods in refrigerator
  • Keep meat away from other foods in the refrigerator

Statistics show that food borne illnesses in the US each year cause:

To stay on the safe side, throw it away once it’s hit the floor. And in case you were wondering, the answer is no --2 seconds isn’t any better than 5 seconds!   


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Tags: Quick and Healthy

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Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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