Food safety alert: Does the '5 second' rule put your health at risk?

Posted at 10:34 PM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-24 09:04:30-04

Urban legend claims if you drop your food and pick it up in just five seconds, it's safe!  Phew! But, is the five-second rule legit? Or, are you playing games with your health?

Stephanie Hockridge digs into the research and learns what other filthy food habits you should ditch.

Oops! I did it again.

But, really, how dirty is this chip after just seconds on the ground? You may be surprised.

Don't sweat it. We're all a little guilty of practicing bad food hygiene.  Some of it is just fine,  but other habits are just foul.

Remember that "chip dip" scene from Seinfeld? 

"That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip," the fellow party-goer yells at George.

But, is it really? 

Food scientist Paul Dawson tested the theory and found much higher bacteria in the dip after people double-dipped. And that's just foul!

If you get invited to a birthday party — beware! Apparently, every party really does have a pooper! 

Dawson also discovered the time-honored tradition of blowing out birthday candles really blows! It puts 1,400 percent more bacteria on the frosting.

Speaking of party fouls, this classic college concept can get hardcore. But, in the end, there's one clear winner: Bacteria! It's everywhere that ping pong ball touches: on the table, on the floor, in your hand, and in the cup.

Dawson found outdoor games are much worse and the bacteria on the ping pong balls transfer directly into the beer.

You know what they say: once you pop you just can't stop! But does bacteria love popcorn as much as we do?  Turns out, sharing is caring!

Dawson found bacteria rarely transfers from your hand to the popcorn!  So, go ahead, treat yourself! Sharing a bucket is just fine!
But, what if you drop that popcorn on the floor? You might want to think twice. It can take less than a second for bacteria to infiltrate food that has a lot of moisture.

For example: if you drop watermelon on the ground, that's just foul! But, using the five-second rule on a dropped gummy bear, that's just fine!