Food Safety: New Research Says It’s Time to Toss the “Five Second Rule”

The “five second rule” states that if you drop food on the floor and it stays there for five seconds or fewer, it is safe to eat. The rule has become part of popular culture. The only problem is, the rule is completely wrong.

According to research just completed at Rutgers University, any food that hits the floor is unsafe to eat. So if you operate a restaurant or any other kind of food service operation, it is time to train your employees to understand that the five second rule should not be followed under any circumstances.

What the Rutgers Researchers Found

Prof. Donald Schaffner and graduate student Robyn Miranda dropped water melon, bread, buttered bread and gummy candy onto stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet surfaces that had been contaminated. They tested four different contact times to see how long it took for contamination to occur: less than one second, five seconds, 30 seconds, and 300 seconds.

All in all, they tested 128 different scenarios and determined that . . .

Food contamination begins within the first second that food is on the floor

Were there variables? Yes. Softer foods like watermelon soak up germs faster than harder foods. And harder surfaces like stainless steel and ceramic tile take longer to deliver doses of bacteria to food.

Those are variables, but the big take-away is that food that has hit any floor should never be retrieved and eaten.

Is Your Restaurant Training Up to Snuff?

If you are you in the business of serving food and beverages to the public, we would like to offer you a complimentary copy of Six Critical Skills for Restaurant Food Safety Training, the latest eBook from Tortal Training. CLICK HERE to download your copy.

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