Give Now  »

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

The Five Second Rule? Maybe You Shouldn't

Zero Second Rule

How many of you have used the five second rule? Using it as an excuse to pick up dropped food saves a lot of food from being thrown away.

But according to a study, maybe you shouldn't do this. Dr. Roy M. Gulick, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College says it should be called the zero-second rule.

"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," Gulick said.


Clemson University conducted a study that tested salmonella placed on wood, tile and carpet. The researchers dropped bologna on the surfaces for 5, 30 and 60 seconds.

Both wood and tile showed that more than 99 percent of the bacteria was transferred immediately, and there was no difference by the time of contact. Carpet transferred a smaller number of bacteria, but there was still no difference by contact time.

Next time you try to use the five second rule remember that while wasting food is not fun, salmonella is even less fun.

Read More:

  • The Five-Second Rule: Fact or Fiction? (Slashfood)
  • The 5-Second Rule (NYTimes)

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Harvest Public Media