The 5-Second Rule: Too Short, Too Long, or Just Right?

Food on Floor

October 25, 2014– Dear Secret Diary, as you probably know, the 5-second rule states that it is fine to eat food off the ground as long as you pick it up within five (5) seconds of it making contact with the ground. 

Of course, as you also know, I generally eat food off the floor without any consideration with how long it was there.

Now though, I ask your guidance on the best way to proceed.  Should I adhere to the 5-Second Rule, and, if not, what time limit would be best?

Here are some questions and factors  I have considered:

1) If your food bounces after hitting the floor, does the time it spends in the air count towards the 5-Second Rule, or does the 5-Second Rule actually just count total time on the ground?  While obviously not relevant for foods like beans (pictured above) that just hit and splat, I think it is relevant for certain foods like apples, meatballs, and twinkies– foods that clearly have a big bounce factor?  I would find clarification on this point helpful.

2) Nobody talks about the nature of the floor on which the food lands.  For example, how should we think about a carpeted living-room floor versus the linoleum kitchen floor?

3) If the food that falls has just been boiled, then would it not sterilize the floor with which it makes contact, thereby allowing a longer of period of time before the food must be picked up and eaten?

4) Does not the specifics of the food in question make a difference.  For example, if chocolate is the food that has fallen, is it not only fine but in fact necessary to eat it, even if it has been on the ground for 18 months?  To me, chocolate is like a fallen comrade in arms.  it cannot  be left behind; it must receive a proper burial; and that burial will be in my mouth.

5) And finally, does it not make a difference whether the food is for you or somebody else, and whether or not the person saw it on the ground.  Again, I could argue that if the food is for somebody else and they do not know the food was on the ground, well then no harm no foul, period.

Secret Diary, thank you in advance for your wise counsel on this matter.


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