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Tragedy: science debunks the five-second rule

Oct 18, 2012

As far as I can tell, whoever created the “five-second rule” was a genius. It takes great powers of rationalization to arbitrarily decide that germs take their sweet-ass time leaping from the floor to a piece of food, and great powers of persuasion to convince the entire world. Well done, whoever you are. You made dropping a gummy worm feel like no big deal.

Until now, that is. For a study funded by Clorox, researchers at San Diego State University recently conducted an experiment where they dropped baby carrots on various surfaces—a countertop, kitchen sink, table and both carpeted and tiled flooring—and then measured each carrot’s germiness against a clean control carrot. Their conclusion: contrary to the myth, plenty of germs are capable of attaching themselves to food within five seconds.

Way to ruin snacking for klutzes, Clorox! But whatever, we can out-rationalize this. Maybe the germs stick—but is that necessarily a bad thing? Maybe they’re good germs. Or maybe they’re bad but we need an occasional rugged-up carrot to keep our immune system on its toes. Our lives are too antiseptic these days—the five second rule is for our health. Like vitamins!

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