You have asked us what is true about the five-second rule, according to which, if food falls and is in contact with the ground for less than five seconds, it can be eaten safely because bacteria take a longer time to transfer from a surface to food.
- Is the five-second rule true with food?
- Influential factors
- When can you eat something that has been dropped on the ground?
- And what can happen to us if we eat something that has fallen to the ground?
- Doubts resolved in the DKV office – Maldita
- Maldita Clinic: Do you have questions about health-related issues?
Is the five-second rule true with food?
It is a myth. This is stated by Beatriz Robles, dietician-nutritionist and author of the book Eat safe eating everything (2020): “Time is just one factor that affects the passage of microorganisms from a surface to food. Contamination can be instantaneous, which dismantles the theory of the five seconds, as can be seen in this study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology”, It indicates.
Alma Palau, president of the General Council of the Official Dietician-Nutritionist Associations, agrees with her. Damn science to the five-second rule as “popular wisdom to be banished”: “Contact, if there are bacteria, immediately contaminates, regardless of whether the elapsed time is three, five or seven seconds ”.
In this study cited by dietitian-nutritionist Daniel Ursúa, different surfaces were contaminated with salmonella and they verified if five seconds was enough time for two foods (bread and sausages) to become contaminated. The result was yes. “It is logical to think that the determining factor is the microbial load of the surface rather than the contact time with said surface “, indicates Ursúa to Damn Science.
There are different factors that influence what happens when food falls to the ground. For example the type of food. Dietitian-nutritionist Elisa Escorihuela explains it to Damn Science: “There is not the same transfer of microorganisms in a cookie (which is a food with low water content) than a piece of pear (food with higher water content and that is an excellent breeding ground for microorganisms)”.
It also indicates that time will be decisive (the longer the transfer time) Y the type of surface. “Smoother surfaces (such as a tile) will transfer a greater number of microorganisms than rougher surfaces such as carpet,” he adds.
And finally, you have to take into account the ambient. According to Escorihuela, kitchen and bathroom floors usually contain more pathogenic microorganisms than soils that are out in the open. Robles mentions that in the kitchen there may be microorganisms that we bring from the street with our shoes, for example, from animal feces and urine.
So when can you eat something that has been dropped on the ground?
Robles states that when you can to wash. “If not, I’m afraid it has to go to waste,” he says. And he gives the following example: “If you drop fruit or the raw trout drips off and ends up on the ground, you can eat it if you wash it first. But if you drop your toast or a tray of roast lamb, you can’t take advantage of it ”.
For its part, Palau recommends not consuming any food that has fallen to the ground: “Coliform bacteria, which can come from animal feces, are not eliminated with water and are highly polluting ”.
And what can happen to us if we eat something that has fallen to the ground?
The risk of eating the food It will depend on the individual characteristics of the person who consumes it, the type of microorganism, the food, the contact time or the nature of the surface. According to Robles, it can range from a food poisoning moderate severity, such as salmonellosis, to severe, such as caused by E. coli (a bacteria that can cause vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, tiredness, and fever).
Doubts resolved in the DKV office – Maldita
We bring you the first installment of the scientific office of the project “Fewer hoaxes, more scientific rigor”, the definitive tool to solve all the doubts that you have raised in recent days. The chosen ones have been about food falling to the ground, ingrown hairs, and the possibility of going bald or not if you get gray hair.