Say it ain’t so! New study debunks “5 Second Rule”

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

Gone are the glorious days of being able to pick up and eat a fallen cookie within five seconds, living in a blissful world of bacterial denial.

Now Rutgers researchers have confirmed that the 'Five Second Rule' is nothing more than an old wives' tale.

In fact, researchers say bacteria transfers to your dropped delicacy almost instantaneously.

It all depends upon the food's consistency and the surface upon which it falls.

Rutgers researchers tested four surfaces and four foods, and also compared four different lengths of times the foods rested on each surface - less than 1 second, 5 seconds, 30 seconds, and 5 minutes.

In a two-year study, scientists tested watermelon, gummy candy, bread by itself, and bread with butter, dropping them onto surfaces tainted with bacterium similar to salmonella.

They found that the wetter the food, the faster the transfer rate of bacteria.

The watermelon instantly sopped up the bacteria like a sponge, while gummy candy had the least contamination.

"Bacteria don’t have legs, they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer," Rutgers Researcher Donald Schaffner said. "Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food."

As far as surfaces go, carpet has the lowest transfer rates compared to tile, stainless steel, and wood.

Technically, if you were to drop gummy candy on carpet, you would have slightly more time before contamination sets in than if you dropped watermelon on any other flooring.

However, during the study, no food, no matter how short the time it rested on each surface, escaped without contamination, thus debunking the old myth.

The traditional five seconds of germ-free oblivion we've all become accustomed to has flown out the window - and hit the floor.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.