Rachel Sanoff
September 19, 2016 6:15 pm

We’ve all been there — you’re snacking on some potato chips after a long day at work when you drop the very last, precious chip on the floor. You are momentarily devastated, until you remember the FIVE-SECOND RULE, and grab that Cheeto off the linoleum tile and shove it into your mouth.

The five-second rule, you know it well. It’s the philosophy that food can’t contract germs and bacteria from a dirty surface unless it has been on that surface for five seconds or longer.

I don’t mean to break any hearts, but listen up, y’all.

As reported by the New York Times, a Rutgers University study conducted over a two year period found that food will pick up germs and bacteria from a dirty surface no matter how swiftly you get it off that surface. The study, “Is The Five-Second Rule Real?” was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Professor Donald W. Schaffner of Rutgers, a food microbiologist, led the study — dropping four different foods (bread with butter, plain bread, strawberry gummy candy, and sliced watermelon) on four different surfaces (carpet, ceramic tile, stainless steel, and wood). Each floor was coated in bacteria similar to salmonella. …ew.

The researchers noticed some varying results. For example, carpets didn’t transmit as much bacteria as tile, and some of the foods did not get as contaminated as others.

As Dr. Schaffner said in the study, ““Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously.” And as noted by the NY Times, surface cross-contamination is the sixth most common cause of food borne-illnesses according to the Center for Disease Control.

So I think we have to say goodbye to the five-second rule, everybody.

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