A scientist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine says that the “five-second rule” (or “three-second rule”, depending on where you grew up) -- where food is considered save to eat if it’s only been on the floor for five (or three) seconds – may be an OK guideline. But according to a report on the Lifehacker website, Dr. Harley Rotbart, a professor of microbiology and pediatric infectious diseases, says it’s more about where you drop the food, as opposed to how long it sits on the ground.
The doctor says that if you drop your bagel on a city sidewalk, it’s probably OK to brush it off and eat it, since the pavement is cleaner than most kitchen floors. But if you're at home, and your bagel slips through your buttery fingers and ends up on the kitchen floor, Dr. Rotbart says the “zero-second rule” should apply “because the bacteria from uncooked meat and chicken juices are more hazardous than the ‘soil’ bacteria outside.”
Has Dr. Rotbart ever been to a city? I love my hometown of Boston, but between the dirt, debris, unknown chemicals, and copious amounts of dog pee, my rule is dropped food = discarded food.
And although I’m no Mr. Clean, I tend not to let meat or chicken juices fester on my kitchen floor. So I’d feel pretty good about grabbing that dropped bagel and putting it back on my plate. (Unless I had a friend over for breakfast, when I would, OF COURSE, throw the bagel away and make a new one – unless they didn’t see me drop it!)
So what’s your rule about picking up food you’ve dropped on the floor? Just pick it up and eat it? Throw it in the trash? Or does it all depend on how long it’s been on the ground?
Footnote: Dr. Rotbart says your bathroom floor is another “zero-second rule” zone. I’m afraid to ask this, but have you ever heard of anyone eating in the bathroom?