Many people have rules about dropping food on the ground including the ever-famous “5-second rule.” Drop food on the ground, as long as, you pick it up in 5 seconds then it is still “good” to eat.
A new study that was recently published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology states: the food is already contaminated with bacteria!
“The five-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food,” said study lead researcher Donald Schaffner, a professor and extension specialist in food science.
“Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously,” he said in a Rutgers news release.
The deciding factor of bacteria contamination is Moisture. Bacteria use moisture to move, so the more water associated with the food, the faster the contamination.
“Transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture,” Schaffner said.
Which foods fared the best and the worst in the study?
Not surprisingly, watermelon has the most bacteria. Last on the list was gummy candy.
Another factor for bacteria? The floor.
Food dropped on carpet had less bacteria than tile or stainless steel. Interestingly, wood floors varied with contamination.
So, you might want to think twice about eating that slice of watermelon after accidentally dropping it on the floor.