'Five Second' Rule for Dropped Food Unsafe

The “five second” rule that says quickly retrieved dropped food is all right to eat should be a “zero second” rule because of bacteria, food scientists say. [via]

Clemson University food scientist Paul Dawson found that salmonella and other dangerous bacteria can remain alive up to four weeks on dry surfaces — like floors — and can be instantly transferred to dropped food.

Location, not time, is the critical factor, researchers say.

Brushing off a bagel you dropped on the sidewalk and eating it is probably safe because the pavement is cleaner than a kitchen floor in terms of the kinds of bacteria found there, Dr. Harley Rotbart, a professor of microbiology and pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado, said.

“The kitchen floor, however, is probably a zero-second zone because the bacteria from uncooked meat and chicken juices are more hazardous than the ’soil’ bacteria outside,” said Rotbart.

Bathroom floors are also zero-second zones because they’re “a great potential source of bacteria and shorter-lived viruses that can cause gastrointestinal illness if ingested,” Rotbart said.

Dr. Paul Dawson explains why the Five Second Rule is bologna:

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