The 5 Second Rule Tested

A pair of biology seniors at Connecticut College decided to test the oft-cited maxim that food that sits less than five seconds on a floor remains safe to eat.

They used a well-traveled section of the college cafeteria; apple slices “because they were free,” and Skittles, because there’s an assumption that dry food is less susceptible to contamination, said researcher Molly Goettsche.

To simulate the real world, food was dropped off the edge of a cafeteria table. One pair of edibles sat on the floor for five seconds; others for 10, 30, 60 seconds; and, finally, for five minutes. They repeated the experiment under the supervision of a biology professor.

The results: No bacteria were found on any food left on the floor for up to half a minute. Apple slices and Skittles both got germy after a minute (although one Skittle took five minutes).

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