Everyone, from kids to adults, knows the rule: a food dropped on the floor is okay to eat as long as you pick it up within five seconds. According to a new study, not so fast.
Researchers set out to determine how long it takes for bacteria to transfer to a food from another surface, like a table top or the floor. The theory of course is that germs need time—at least five seconds—to transfer to food. They cultured bacteria samples, spread them on different surfaces, and allowed the samples to dry. Then, they began dropping food.
According to researchers, bacterial transfer was affected by moisture. Foods like watermelon, for example, picked up the most germs, the fastest. Foods dropped on carpeting picked up less bacteria than those dropped on tile or stainless steel surfaces. Overall, picking up the food within five seconds was not fast enough to avoid contamination. Toss it in the trash.
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