There are three kinds of people: the ones that will not hesitate to eat food off the ground, the ones that don’t dare to, and the ones who aren’t good at making decisions (this is me). We are the ones who first look to see if anyone is watching, hesitantly pick it up, wipe it off, and eat it quickly, saying a quick prayer while swallowing.
The five-second rule says that if food is picked up within five-seconds of being dropped on the floor it is “ok” to eat.
Meredith Agle, at the time a doctoral candidate, finally wanted to know the truth, so she took the question to science.
Agle conducted a study and as a result, in 2004, at Harvard University, received an Ig Nobel Prize for her work. The Ig Nobel Prize is awarded to experiments that make you laugh and think. Although, this is no joking matter, is dropped food gone forever?
After swabbing common areas and testing how many microorganisms were detected, Agle was surprised to find how little bacteria was present. These organisms would be bacteria, such as E. coli or salmonella, that could potentially lead to sickness.
MythBusters said that if you are clumsy enough to drop your food, you need to be questioning other parts of your life rather than if you can or can not eat it. Oh, and they also said it IS in fact a myth.
Let’s go back to science. Scientific American advises you to “think twice before doing so.” So, I should question every one of my decisions? Thanks, science.
Agle’s advice would be dry floors are generally clean, so go for it! However, if you are going to contract bacteria and get sick, it takes less than five seconds for the bacteria to get on your food.
So, the “five-seconds” is not accurate, if the food was going to pick up bacteria it would have already done so, long before you count to five. It is not a matter of how long the food is on the floor, but rather how clean the surface is, what kind of surface it is, and the kind of food.
Should I or should I not eat my cookie that I dropped? Agle concluded that she eats food off the ground, so I believe that is enough permission. So, continue to do anything possible to get your food.
After all is said and done, the five-second part of the rule is a myth. However, I still believe in the idea of the rule — you CAN eat something off the ground as the risks seem fairly low. If you are a person who has “bad luck” maybe avoid eating food off the ground. The good news is, universities have some of the cleanest floors (or so they say).
After my intensive scientific research I will eat off the ground more often, as I used to be hesitant.
Eat on. And relax a little — take your time, grasshopper, there is no need to pick it up within those first five seconds.