Booster Shots

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A new way to think about the 5-second rule

January 25, 2010 |  5:02 pm

Youdroppedfood You’ve waited hours in line to get your hands on Kogi’s Korean BBQ tacos, and as you step away from the truck, the unthinkable happens – your drop your meal on the ground.

What do you do? Will your immune system survive if you pick it up and eat it? How about your reputation?

The good folks at SFoodie, the food blog from, have stepped in with this handy flow chart to help you navigate the complexities of this and other dropped-food scenarios.

The chart was inspired by the cutting-edge research of two biology students from Connecticut College, who tested the validity of that famous food safety axiom, the 5-second rule.

In an ingenious series of experiments, they dropped apple slices and Skittles candies on the ground and measured how long it took for dangerous bacteria to render it unsafe to eat. They found that the axiom could safely be renamed the 30-second rule.

Special thanks to Fooducate for calling this to our attention.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: In case you were wondering, this is an emausaurus. Credit: Audrey Fukman and Andy Wright