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“5 second rule” should be 0 seconds

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 02-03-2011

Bacteria on the floor attaches to food on contact, so forget all you’ve ever heard about eating something off the floor.

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

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In a New York Times Q+A column, they quote Dr. Roy M. Gulick, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College, who said, “Eating dropped food poses a risk for ingestion of bacteria and subsequent gastrointestinal disease, and the time the food sits on the floor does not change the risk.”

It’s hard to resist the temptation of a quick grab when it’s the last donut in the box, or a favorite piece of chocolate, but a 2006 study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology showed that there was no difference in the amount of bacteria picked up between 0, 5, 30 or even 60 seconds. Even on different surfaces including wood and tile, time had no effect on transfer of bacteria.

Since even 10 salmonella bacteria can create a bad case of what is often called “stomach flu” or gastroenteritis, it’s safer to move the fallen item directly into the garbage rather than feed it to small children.