Is it true that bacteria need time to attach to surface of fallen food or commonly dropped items like sippy cups?
The five seconds rule
Wash and disinfect surfaces and toys to prevent the spread of Germs.
Don’t eat that: New study shoots down the five second rule!
San Diego State University professor Scott Kelley dropped baby carrots and sippy cups on different surfaces around several homes and tested how many germs they collected if they were picked up within five seconds. They found the commonly believed rule — which says if you drop something for just a few seconds, it’s safe to eat — is bogus. All the items attracted significant amounts of germs.
“We wanted to know if there was any truth to the theory that bacteria need time to attach to surfaces of fallen food or commonly dropped items like sippy cups,” states a report from Kelley, an associate professor of biology. “Unfortunately, for those of us who lived by that rule, it looks like a total myth — five seconds is all it takes.”
But the real surprise was which surfaces were the worst offenders. A carrot fared worse when dropped on a kitchen counter than a tiled or carpeted floor, and a sippy cup got the biggest germ load from a high chair tray.
“Apparently, it doesn’t matter if germs carry a stopwatch or not. If they are around, they will hitch a ride on almost anything,” “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” correspondent Samantha Bee says in a statement. The mother of two is a spokeswoman for The Clorox Co., which funded Kelley’s study.
Nonetheless, 65 percent of parents do live by the five-second rule, according to a poll of 500 parents of kids ages 6 and under who were part of the study. Nearly three quarters of those parents, 72 percent, would eat food that fell on a table and 24 percent would pick up and eat something off the kitchen counter. But once it hits the floor, it’s a different story: Only 3 percent would eat something that fell on a tile floor and just 1 percent would dare put something in their mouths after it fell on a carpeted floor.
The study recommends using bleach to clean surfaces and kill germs. After all, it was sponsored by the makers of Clorox.
This isn’t the first study to support cleaning up and doing away with the five second rule. A 2003 University of Illinois study found Gummi Bears picked up E. coli bacteria from a contaminated tile floor in under five seconds. Another study done in 2007 at Clemson University found bread and bologna dropped on floors spiked with salmonella picked up enough of the bacteria to make someone sick.
So, all those parents who run around with hand sanitizer and wipes, cleaning restroom seats and shopping cart handlebars, also should look a little closer to home.
Related: Wash and Disinfect Surfaces and Toys to Prevent the Spread of Germs