Professor Jack Gilbert weighs in on the "five-second rule"

Jack Gilbert, PhD

According to Jack Gilbert (Faculty Director, The Microbiome Center; Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago; Senior Scientist (Adjunct), the Marine Biological Laboratory; Group Leader in Microbial Ecology, Argonne National Laboratory), it is not true that your food will not pick up bacteria off the floor if you manage to scoop it back up within five seconds; however, you are unlikely to pick up any harmful bacteria. In fact, you might be doing yourself some favors by introducing allergens in small amounts to desensitize your system to them.

“Eating food off of the floor, as an infant, could significantly reduce chances of having allergies, because you’re exposed to a larger variety of microorganisms,” Gilbert said. “That health benefit is normally attributed to building a tolerance to the outside world.”

Still, while you are unlikely to pick up anything harmful, the risk still exists, particularly for the immuno-compromised.

Read the full story on Infection Control Today.

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