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There is no 5 second rule

The myth: If your drop any type of food while cooking/eating and pick it up before 5 seconds have passed, it will not be contaminated or catch any bacteria, and it’s safe to eat it.


There is no 5 second rule! Remember; when in doubt, throw it out!

It does not matter if it is 1 second,5, or 10, when food gets in contact with any surface it can become contaminated with harmful bacteria. It is impossible to know which type of bacteria this could be, it’s better to just throw away that food item and get a new product. Most bacterial settles to the floor when we sneeze or bring it in from outside on our shoes. We must be especially careful if you are feeding high-risk groups like young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with low immune and defence systems. They could really be affected by this contaminated item.  

Moisture food items like meat, fruits, and sauces, have a higher risk of being contaminated. Regardless of the type of food or surface it falls into, if your drop it, it’s safer to throw it away and star over again with a new piece. Yes, it might not be the most comfortable or practical choice, but without a doubt, it is the safest one. Cross contamination causes many of the avoidable food borne illnesses in North America. SO don’t follow the 5 second rule – it doesn’t exist!

It is important for you to know that not all bacteria are killed through the cooking process, for example, spore forming bacteria can survive heating, cooling, freezing and drying. When in doubt throw it out.

If you want to learn more about safe food handling and how to become a Certified Food Handler you can read more of our blogs or take our food handler training. Click to book your training here.