The 5 Second Rule
I am one of the guilty ones. In my younger adult life, I once dropped an M&M on the floor of a public building and scooped it up and popped it into my mouth all in one fell swoop. My co-workers were aghast.
Today, it’s different. I throw out my socks at the end of the airport security line, and I burn any personal items that may have made their way into anyone’s hospital room – pillows, slippers, even toothbrushes. Actually, I don’t bring anything home from a hospital anymore. I just leave it there. Call me a germ-a-phobe. When my son returned from China in 2014, I even threw out his shoes before he got out of my car.
However, a recent study released by researchers at Rutgers University now calls the 5-Second Rule a myth, and probably supports my paranoia – the rule that says if something is dropped on the floor and picked up immediately, there is little to no threat of contamination. This is one of those notions that developed over time out of practicality. But in today’s environment, it’s just no longer wise.
The article states: After putting the five-second rule to the test, researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., found contamination with bacteria can occur in less than one second. "The five-second rule is a significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food," said study lead researcher Donald Schaffner, a professor and extension specialist in food science. "Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously."
So, I sent a son off to college this fall with hand sanitizer, vitamins, and extra pillow cases. I reminded him how important hand washing is in preventing illness. I even suggested he spray down the dormitory mattress with anti-bacterial cleaning products prior to making his bed. Think I’m crazy? Maybe I am.
But I do know this … there are a few simple things we can do to promote wellness and protect our own health. And now we know that the 5 Second Rule no longer applies. When you drop it, leave it, or sweep it up and throw it away.
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