The Truth about the Five Second Rule

You have been patiently watching the microwave for the last 3 minutes as your piece of pizza slowly spun, cooking all the while. In the meantime, your mouth began to water. You want nothing more than to take a big bite of that cheesy goodness. Then, as you remove the pizza from the microwave, the unthinkable happens. The plate slips and the pizza falls on the floor. Thank goodness for the Five Second Rule, right?


According to a study conducted by the Hygiene Council, the kitchen floor has more bacteria (830 per square inch) than the trash can (411 per square inch). But that is not the only reason that the five second rule is a farce. The popular rule was first debunked in 2003 when high school student Jillian Clarke, an intern at the University of Illinois, coated tiles with E. coli bacteria and dropped gummy bears and fudge-stripe cookies onto the surface for 5 seconds.

The result: Bacteria did jump onto the food in that short amount of time. Sorry!

There is some truth to the five second rule, however. In 2007, scientists at Clemson University in South Carolina applied “salmonella soup” to tile, wood and nylon carpet and dropped bread and bologna on both. They tested how long it took bacteria to climb onto the food.

The result: The longer the contact with the floor, no matter what the surface, the higher the transfer of germs.

Still, bacteria found its way onto the bread and bologna, even in just five seconds. Both foods picked up between 150 and 8,000 bacteria. This number was magnified 10 times when the food was left on the contaminated flooring for a full minute.

So do yourself a favor. Next time you drop a piece of food on the floor, throw it in the garbage…not your mouth.

If you have any questions about Oral Health or wish to schedule an appointment, please contact Leikin & Baylin Dental Care of Catonsville, Maryland by calling 410-747-1115 or visit

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  1. Does the Five Second Rule really work?
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