Does The Five Second Rule ACTUALLY Matter?

Don't pretend you haven't done it before.

We’re all friends here so we can be honest – we’ve all abided by the ‘five second rule’ once or twice, right?

If you’re not familiar, the five second rule means that if you drop a piece of food on the floor, it’s still safe to eat because, what can really happen in five seconds?

If you are the type to adhere to it, as I am, you’ve likely just not let yourself think about it too much because who wants to waste food? And who wants to overthink these things?

Well, some scientists do.

What experts think of the rule

Donald Schaffner, PhD, a professor of food science, actually conducted a study on this in 2016 which did confirm that yes, bacteria can actually hit your food within five seconds. Immediately, actually and the longer it sits, the more that can transfer onto the food.

However, when speaking to Real Simple magazine, Schaffner said that really, when it comes to eating food that you’ve dropped: eat at your own risk. If you’re in your own home, the food you’ve dropped is less likely to be contaminated than if you dropped it in a takeaway restaurant.

Before forgiving yourself a quick floor nibble, it might be worth considering what food safety field specialist Nicole Arnold said to Real Simple: “everyone’s comfort level is different but I wouldn’t eat a potato chip even after a few seconds on the ground.”

Maybe if the experts don’t, we shouldn’t either?