The controversial "five-second rule" — the one that allows us to eat dropped food if it's quickly scooped off the floor — is a bunch of baloney, according to Clemson University food scientist Paul Dawson, who stirred up the long-debated issue in an issue of National Geographic.
Though previous research has shown we may have up to a minute to rescue certain types of spilled food before it becomes contaminated, Dawson and his students made a strong case for the "zero-second rule." They found that salmonella and other bacteria can live up to four weeks on dry surfaces and be immediately transferred to food.
The zero-tolerance standard, however, conflicts with the findings of two Connecticut College student researchers who sprinkled apple slices and Skittles candies in the college dining hall and snack bar for 5-, 10-, 30- and 60-second intervals. The apple slices picked up bacteria after one minute; nearly five minutes elapsed before the Skittles attracted any.
Sounds like you still need to use your own best judgment.
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