Does the 5-second rule really work? Ask Smithsonian (Smithsonian.com)
Does the 5-second rule really work?
Lexile

The 5-second rule states that food dropped on the floor for less than 5 seconds is still safe to eat. But to really answer the question, we need to ask another how lucky do you feel?

It can take less than 5 seconds for 150 to 8,000 bacteria like Salmonella to hop a ride onto dropped food and eventually into your body where they can wreak havoc. What happens if you wait a full minute before savoring that tasty morsel from the floor? Youre looking at ten times as many bacterial freeloaders.

Now, not all bacteria are bad for you. But eating food off the floor is a bit like playing Russian roulette with your stomach. Your chances of picking up a nasty hitchhiker by sampling food off the bathroom or even kitchen floor are pretty good.We track harmful agents like fecal bacteria around on the soles of our shoes all the time, so no floor surface is guaranteed to be a safe bet.

A little bacteria goes a long way. The infectious dose is the smallest number of bacteria needed to make you sick. It can be as low as 10 bacteria for some types of Salmonella. Lots of very unlucky people about 1 in 6 Americans end up on the losing end of the deal. That's how many get sick from foodborne illnesses every year.

So the next time you drop food on the ground, you might want to think twice before dusting it off and tossing it down the hatch. Bon appetit!

Critical thinking challenge: Why is 1 minute more risky than 5 seconds?
 

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COMMENTS (355)
  • dylan gaddis
    5/16/2014 - 10:57 a.m.

    1.)The 5-second rule states that food dropped on the floor for less than 5 seconds is still safe to eat
    2.)It can take less than 5 seconds for 150 to 8,000 bacteria like Salmonella to hop a ride onto dropped food and eventually into your body where they can wreak havoc
    3.)A little bacteria goes a long way. The infectious dose is the smallest number of bacteria needed to make you sick.
    4.) It can be as low as 10 bacteria for some types of Salmonella.
    5.)Now, not all bacteria are bad for you. But eating food off the floor is a bit like playing Russian roulette with your stomach

  • PrincessGadberry
    5/16/2014 - 10:59 a.m.

    wow. i thought that the 5 second rule really works. But now i know that it doesn't. Now i will know what to do with the food that drops on the floor. So i learned a very good lesson.

  • kolson1234
    5/16/2014 - 11:03 a.m.

    It can take less than 5 seconds. for 150 to 8,000 bacteria like Salmonella to hop a ride onto dropped food. and eventually into your body where they can wreak havoc. What happens if you wait a full minute before savoring that tasty morsel from the floor?. Youre looking at ten times as many bacterial freeloaders.

  • jojogarcia
    5/16/2014 - 11:15 a.m.

    One minute is more risky than five seconds because bacteria has more time to get on the piece of food you dropped. Also your not supposed to even eat off of the floor because you are likely to get sick. You shouldn't eat off of the floor because its disgusting.

  • jaden5k1
    5/16/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    i think that the 5 sec. rule dose work but you might get sick like they said. the 1 min. rule is more risck becusa like they said a lot mor batera get on your food.

  • emmal-Weh
    5/16/2014 - 12:38 p.m.

    So the question is does the five second rule really work? I personally don't think so because a) you still get germs in your mouth and b) why not just throw it away instead of risking a disease? That's my question for you!

  • ar18cupcakes
    5/16/2014 - 12:58 p.m.

    I think that the 5 second rule isnt healthy but i still use it sometimes. Though now that i have read this, i might think more about it then before i pick up the food and it again. I just wonder who came up with the 5 second rule in the first place.

  • LA24Swagg
    5/16/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    I never knew that this actually happens.I didn't that a lot of bacteria get on the food, well now i know. This time i wont do that s much or think about it second time.

  • lukes-Weh
    5/16/2014 - 01:05 p.m.

    If you wait one minute you can have up to 80,000 hitch hikers, but if you only wait 5 seconds you'll only have up to 8,000.

  • Carolina-Mil
    5/16/2014 - 01:07 p.m.

    Because 5 seconds takes less than 5 seconds for 150 to 8,000 bacteria to enter your body and if you wait a minutes its worse and it times the bacterias by 10

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