Is the ’5-Second Rule’ True? (Video)

If you drop food on the floor and pick it up within five seconds, it’s safe to eat. At least that’s the theory behind the five-second rule used by 50 percent of men and 70 percent of women.

Some people use a three-second rule, but the fact is that bacteria manage to adhere to food almost immediately, and there’s plenty of bacteria waiting to hitch a ride on your freshly dropped food. Your floor may look squeaky clean, but a University of Arizona study revealed that about 90 percent of our shoes are contaminated with fecal matter after three months of wear. Yuck! We’re spreading bacteria wherever we walk.

Vsauce host Michael Stevens created this fascinating video that takes an in-depth look at the science behind the five-second rule.

Bacteria are everywhere, including the keyboard I’m currently using, and it only takes about 10 bacteria of some strains of salmonella to make you sick. We’ve got an abundance of bacteria on our kitchen counters, our purses, and just about everywhere. The truly amazing news in all this is that the human immune system manages to fight off harmful bacteria most of the time.

According to the National Institutes of Health, bacteria are so small that a line of 1,000 could fit across a pencil eraser. It’s easy to dismiss what we can’t see. Still, thinking about that fecal matter on our shoes might make you want to reconsider that five-second rule…

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An Ounce of Prevention in Your Hands


LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article and good comments.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article and good comments.

Ammy G.
Ammy G.3 years ago

I only eat things that are washable after they're dropped: e.g. a blueberry or unpeeled orange, etc. If it's something that can't be washed, or is sticky (e.g. like a peeled banana or a cut tomato), then it goes into the bin if it's dropped. Then again, I hardly ever drop food.

Liz Janmaat
Liz Janmaat3 years ago

I would expect that the 5 second rule would depend on what the food is. There are certain types you probably wouldn't pick up, but other kinds you can and maybe give it a rince under the tap before popping it in your mouth.
It would be up to the individual what they wish to do. Gross articile however lol...

Tania Adams
Tania Adams3 years ago

LOL! Mark T, you're funny :)

But yeah, yuck! on one hand and on the other hand - I think our bodies are equipped to handle 5 seconds worth of germs....

Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

This has been proven so wrong so often, I'm surprised it's coming up again.

Richard B.
Richard B.3 years ago

Yum! Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrgh! ;-)

Richard B.
Richard B.3 years ago

I think the best option is to drop food from 5 feet, count to 5 and try to catch it before it hits the floor. 1-2-3-4-5, splat! Now, try doing that in space! ;-) Barring that, give the food to the cat, the dog, the chickens or the garden.

Stephen Street
Stephen L.3 years ago

You people who throw out food just because its been on the floor or wherever for a few minutes are missing a lot of new taste experiences.

Joy Jin
Joy Jin3 years ago

it's gross but i use it anyway