Science: the 5 Second Rule Is True

by Dave Schuler on March 16, 2014

Well, I’m glad that’s settled:

Biology students at Aston University in the UK monitored how quickly E.coli and common bacteria spread from surfaces to food such as toast (butter side down, no doubt), pasta and sticky sweets — with time being a significant factor in the transfer of germs.

Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time according to the findings.

The type of flooring the food has been dropped on has an effect, with bacteria least likely to transfer from carpeted surfaces and most likely to transfer from laminate or tiled surfaces to moist foods making contact for more than five-seconds.

“We have found evidence that transfer from indoor flooring surfaces is incredibly poor with carpet actually posing the lowest risk of bacterial transfer onto dropped food,” said Professor Anthony Hilton who headed the study.

It’s better not to drop food at all but if you’re going to drop it the faster you pick it up the safer it is. I’m glad that’s settled. It will be very reassuring to my wife.

I now look forward to a definitive answer on whether the jelly side lands down a majority of the time.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

TastyBits March 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm

As children, I remember we always did the sign of the cross, and this would bless the dropped food. If I remember correctly, a hair or two could be removed, and the blessing would still work. I know candy, cookies, and chips were included, but I doubt spinach or liver could be saved.

Red Barchetta March 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm

“I know candy, cookies, and chips were included, but I doubt spinach or liver could be saved.” ;->

And of course fried eggplant became toxic whilst still in mid-air…….

Dave Schuler March 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Idea for new reality show: “Can This Liver Be Saved?” Problem: limited appeal.

I see an ethnic/cultural difference. Around here fried eggplant is a treat, only allowed on rare occasions. And fried artichokes are a luxury that can only be dreamed about.

Red Barchetta March 16, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Fried eggplant is best characterized as cruel and unusual punishment. As a 12 year old I could have used the ACLU….

Andy March 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm
Trumwill March 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Incidental Economist has been all over this. Less than what meets the eye, I’m afraid.

One of my (many) favorite comic strips is a bunch of bacteria in a starting line position in front of a potato chip saying “One mississippi, two mississippi…”

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