The Five Second Rule

After a Facebook conversation with my mother, I realized that many people are not familiar with the rules and regulations of the Five Second Rule. Yes, we all know that five seconds does not save a piece of food that has fallen on the floor from becoming contaminated with bacteria, but the existence of the rule itself makes us feel better about eating that piece of chocolate that we really couldn’t bear to throw in the trash after dropping it.

The basic tenant of the five second rule is that anything which falls on the floor and remains there for five seconds or less, is safe for consumption. In order for the five second rule to be valid, one must actually call out “Five Second Rule!” prior to retrieving the fallen object, the same way you would call “Shotgun” for the passenger seat in the car. Failure to make the statement required for invocation of the rule nullifies protection. That seems like a fairly simple thing to remember, but there are variations in the five second rule to be considered:

1. If a dry food falls on a dry surface within your home and you clean your floors regularly, the normal five second allotment is extended to an hour. After an hour, the said object will likely have become stale, rendering it unpleasantly edible.

2. If a wet or sauce-covered food falls onto a hard surface (which you clean regularly), picking it up prior to the expiration of the allotted five seconds makes it suitable for consumption.

3. If a wet or sauce-covered food falls onto a carpeted floor, there are two options;

a) If the food can be rinsed (as in a hot dog, and don’t act like you have never rinsed off your hot dog after it fell on the floor) and you don’t wear shoes inside the home, the food is considered safe.

b) If the food cannot be rinsed, as would be the case with barbeque chicken wings, you must use your own discretion before eating. Inspect for lint and hair. If the sauce is dark, making lint and hair difficult to spot, the item should be discarded.

4. If any food, wet or dry, falls onto the floor and is sniffed by a cat, that food is disqualified and use of the five second rule is no longer an option.

5. If your home is inhabited by dogs, your floors are not suitable for implementation of the Five Second Rule. The reason for this is that dogs go outdoors to use the bathroom. When they walk back through the house, it is considered the equivalent of wearing shoes in the house. If you disagree with this ruling, feel free to continue with prior practices however, you are not considered to be protected by the Five Second Rule.

I hope these guidelines clear up any misconceptions you may have had regarding the Five Second Rule.

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