Study: 5-second rule is too generous for fallen food

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — It might be time to reconsider the five-second rule when thinking about eating food that has fallen on the floor.

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey say in a new study that bacteria can contaminate food that falls on the floor instantaneously.

The findings were published this month in the American Society for Microbiology's journal.

Researcher Donald Schaffner said the five-second rule is a "significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food."

Schaffner's research isn't the first to conclude that the favorite excuse for why that yummy snack that fell on the ground is still OK to eat is wrong.

The research did find that longer contact time means more bacterial transfer, but that the type of food and surface is just as, or more, important.

The Rutgers researchers tested watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy on stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet.

They found that watermelon had the most contamination, and that transfer of bacteria is affected most by moisture.

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