Food safety concerns have created the myth that a food dropped on the floor and picked up immediately within 5 seconds can be safe for consumption and free from contamination. Presumably, who ever has authored this "invention", took it for granted that the bugs present on the floor are not agile enough to move into the food within such a short time. Recently scientific studies have proved the myth wrong, giving much more credit to these tiny bugs than humans have thought of!
"Three baby carrots were dropped into a kitchen sink, onto a tiled floor, a carpeted floor, a table and a counter top. A control carrot remained undropped. In each case, germs glommed onto the veggie in 5 seconds. The germiest culprit? The countertop, followed by the carpeted floor and the tiled floor. The wet sippy cup actually picked up the most germs when dropped onto a highchair tray. The university also surveyed 500 parents, finding that 65 percent admitted to following the 5-second rule".
While it may be true that bacteria can get adhered to the food dropped on the floor, to what extent the few cells managing to cling on would be harmful is a tantalizing question. Unless a minimum critical mass is present and sufficient time elapses between picking up and consumption, bacterial multiplication to dangerous levels, probably may not take place. Does it mean that the "5-seconds" rule is still relevant? There are many variables such as extent of contamination on the floor, the surface characteristics of the floor, type of food dropped, quantity involved and the way it is picked up. One cannot be sure but if one is game for a gamble and does not feel unduly apprehensive, the dropped food can still be consumed after picking up within 5 seconds of dropping it