Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorIn my mind, it’s one of the most important “medical rules” in existence: the “five-second rule.”

An unwritten law dictating that if a food or other consumable item is dropped onto the floor, it may be picked up and eaten within five seconds. The reasoning behind this is that dirt and germs take six seconds to transfer from one surface to another.

Think about it.  I’ve got this great piece of pizza, or an ice cream cone … and plop … down it goes. If I’ve got quick hands and a quick mind, I’m good to go, right?


People have actually done research on this thinking, (which, I’m not kidding you, dates back to the days of Genghis Khan), and the results of actual scientific research says the clock has run out on this so-called rule.

Obviously, every floor, every surface is different. Each has different numbers and different types of germs.

But the studies clearly show that it take less than one second for germs to infiltrate that tasty treat you just fumbled onto the floor.

And if it’s a soft, moist, or spongy food … just a milliseconds contact is all it takes … and all of the washing. scrubbing, and cleansing isn’t going to restore that food to edibility.

Some perspective: your mouth contains more than 100 billion bacteria (most harmless). Your kitchen sponge contains 7.2 billion (mostly harmful.) A clean floor … clean … has more than 25,000 per square inch (mainly harmful.)

Then consider it only takes about 100 E. Coli germs to make you sick, and about 10 Salmonella germs to cause illness, and you can see, the odds are stacked against you.

Sorry folks. For the vast majority of drops, don’t even think about pulling out the stopwatch, or counting “one- Mississippi, two- Mississippi, etc ”

As soon as that food hits the floor, you are cooked.


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