HOUSTON, TX - It's popular belief when it comes to food accidentally dropped on the ground, seconds count. You know, like as long as you pick up dropped food in five seconds, the item is still safe to eat.
So does bacteria really back-off fallen food if it's snatched up within five seconds? According to science, kind of. NASA scientists say the 5-second rule is somewhat valid, if the food and the surface it falls onto are both dry. Of course, a little crud might get on your dropped cookie, but like some people learned as kids, dirt don't hurt.
But time does become an issue the longer food stays on the floor. A moist morsel left longer than 30 seconds collects 10 times the number of bacteria and can come into contact with E. coli, salmonella and Listeria. With those kinds a germs, your dropped cookie can easily have you tossing your cookies in no time.
So there you go, dry foods picked up quickly won't do much harm physically. But socially, what would your friends think?