If I recall correctly, I first heard of the 5-second rule as a teenager while working in a community kitchen with some other girls. Someone likely dropped a cookie on the floor, yelped “Oops! 5-second rule!”, dusted off the cookie, and popped it into her mouth.

We giggled over the incident, saying with feigned sarcasm, “Ah yes, of course. Picking it up after 5 seconds makes all the difference.”

But as it turns out, the 5-second rule might not be the pleasant fiction we’ve believed it to be all these years. It actually may be the truth.

Medical Daily reports:

“NASA engineer Mark Rober decided to test out the five-second rule on the new Discovery Science Channel show, ‘The Quick and the Curious.’ Instead of the five-second rule, they’ve dubbed it the 30-second moisture-and-surface rule. Yes, small amounts of bacteria do jump aboard a piece of food when it hits the ground, but the texture of the food and the surface it falls on makes all the difference.

A piece of moist food left on the ground for more than 30 seconds accumulates around 10 times more bacteria then food that is picked up after three seconds. Now in terms of what surface you drop your food on, pray it’s a rug. Linoleum, tile, and laminated surfaces transfer a lot more germs and a lot quicker compared to rugs, thanks to their woven surface area, which reduces surface-to-food contact.”  

In spite of this news, it’s still easy to screw up our face and label 5-second-rule behavior as “gross.” But we say that through the lens of an extremely sanitized and cleanly society.

Cleanliness is certainly good, but have Americans actually over-obsessed in this area? Furthermore, could this obsession be what’s at the root of some of the mysterious allergies and health problems that more Americans seem to wrestle with in recent years?

Image Credit: Peter Thoeny via Flickr bit.ly/1hYHpKw