New study sheds light on the 'five-second rule'

If our favorite food accidentally falls on the floor, we can find comfort in knowing that it can still be saved as long as it's picked within five seconds – right? Well, a recent research finding out of Rutgers University is sure to disappoint those who abide by the 5-second rule.

A news release notes, "Rutgers researchers have disproven the widely accepted notion that it's OK to scoop up food and eat it within a 'safe' five-second window...In some instances, the transfer begins in less than one second."

However, researchers do acknowledge that the time it takes for bacteria to transfer does vary depending on the type of food and surface. For their experiments, the study team used a variety of foods and surface types. They found that fruits like watermelons had the highest level of contamination whereas gummy candy had the lowest.

Donald Schaffner, one of the researchers, noted, "Transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears to be affected most by moisture...Bacteria don't have legs, they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food."

When it comes to different surfaces, "...carpet has very low transfer rates compared with those of tile and stainless steel, whereas transfer from wood is more variable."

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