Ann Gabriel | PinoyTrekker

Contrary to what we believed in, when we were still children, the ‘Wala Pang Five Seconds Rule’ has been debunked by science. The ‘Wala Pang Five Seconds Rule’ was meant to declare food as safe if picked up within 5 seconds from being dropped.

Various foods were drop tested on different surfaces to see how fast bacteria contaminates it. Scientists found out that bacteria can jump to food that was dropped in under 1 second. This is bad news for clumsy people (clumsy eaters, actually).

The common and popular notion of the ‘Wala Pang Five Seconds Rule‘ is that food dropped on the floor, but picked up quickly, is safe to eat. We all were led to believe that bacteria doesn’t move that fast.

In an experiment conducted by a team of scientists, four different types of surfaces were used to prove that the  ‘Wala Pang Five Seconds Rule‘  is untrue. They used stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet – and selected a number of different foods to drop on them, which includes watermelon, dry bread, buttered bread, and gummy candies.

The team actually used live bacteria which they grew themselves. The bacteria called Enterobacter aerogenes is a safe, non-pathogenic relative of Salmonella.

The scientists proceeded to drop each piece of food on each bacteria-covered surface, and left there for various amounts of time: 1 second, 5 seconds, 30 seconds, and 300 seconds.

Overall, the team made a total of 128 different scenarios trials and replicated each scenario 20 times, adding up to 2,560 individual measurements that were used to analyse the amount of contamination on each food item.

The teams findings led to the belief that the biggest factor to bacteria transfer was the amount of moisture present in the food, followed by the type of surface it’s being dropped onto. And while there was no hesitation for the bacteria to transfer over, the longer time that the food was left on the surface, the more bacteria found its way over.

Scientists concluded that bacteria don’t have legs, they move with the moisture. The more wet the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food.

5 seconds is still enough time for bacteria to transfer, most especially if the food is wet or sticky like watermelon or candy, which had the highest levels of contamination across all the tests that were made.

Conclusion, bacteria can contaminate instantaneously.

The ‘Wala Pang Five Seconds Rule‘ is now debunked.

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