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Food safety: The 5 second rule
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five-rule If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “Is the 5-second rule legitimate?” I could retire early!

Because it's such a popular topic of conversation, let's explore the so-called "5-second rule" and whether or not you should think twice about picking up that cookie you just dropped … and secretly ate.

There is no real consensus on how safe -- or unsafe -- it is to eat food off the floor. However, there are a variety of factors we'll explore to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Bacteria are found everywhere. Ten types of bacteria cause food-borne illness and they could be living on your floors.
  2. The people most susceptible to becoming ill? Elderly individuals, infants, young children and pregnant women make up the majority of the susceptible population.
  3. What type of food did you drop? Dry foods, including cookies and crackers, for example, that are dropped for a short amount of time are less likely to pick up any pet bacteria. Wet food, which includes meat and cheese, has a higher chance of bacteria hitching a ride because of the moisture.

Now think about your environment: A day in the life of your floor. Dogs coming in from outside, cats exiting a litter box, your 3-year-old toddler having an accident on the floor, trash bins leaking in your kitchen. It's an endless list of possibilities.

The take home message? While floors can have generally clean surfaces, but if micro-organisms are present, they can and will transfer to your food in less than 5 seconds. So ... eat at your own risk!

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