Food has a habit of falling on the floor (stupid gravity). The question then becomes: To eat or not to eat? Is there any truth to the adage that food that’s been on the floor for five seconds or less is safe to scarf?
According to legend, the idea originated with none other than Genghis Khan. According to The Citizen, historians have traced the maxim to the great military leader. Back then, it was known as the Khan Rule and it was a bit more liberal.
During post-victory banquets, Khan supposedly would declare that if food fell on the floor, it could stay there for 12 hours. Any longer than that, and you risked death.
Of course, that’s just a legend. Whether Khan actually had such a rule is anybody’s guess. What we do know is that the five-second rule (let alone the 12 hour rule) doesn’t make much sense. Snopes.com explains that researchers have done experiments and found that the amount of time a piece of food is on the floor really makes no difference. If the floor is dirty, so is the food.
“Bacteria and viruses grab on by contact, and even brief encounters of the split-second variety can be more than enough for them to claim a new home address. They harbor no respect for a time barrier of a specific number of seconds.”
Of course, a little bit of bacteria isn’t gonna hurt (well, probably not), but if the floor isn’t very clean, you’re probably better off tossing the food and starting again.
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