A Viral Video About The Three-Second Rule Has Amazed Foodies

Would you pick up food after it’s dropped to the floor? The "three-second rule" is a widely debated concept that suggests that if food falls on the floor and is picked up within three seconds, it's still safe to eat. While it may seem like a convenient guideline, its validity is often questioned by scientists and health professionals. But a recent video featuring the popular health content creator Dr Pal Manickam sheds some perspective on this theory.

Dr Manickam who is an expert on gut health has often stressed the idea of the diversity of bacteria in one’s gut; he feels eating food off the floor of your home may not be such a bad idea. “If you drop the chocolate on a home floor, it’s okay. Three seconds later you eat it because it’s your home environment. Those microbes will not the the ‘Thanos’, it will be smaller bad guys but your good bacteria will take care of it,” he said in a recent podcast.

“But at the same time, you’re giving work to your immune system, you are providing a wide variety of bacteria it’s all good. The same chocolate if it drops in a hospital setting I wouldn’t even go near it because the actual ‘Thanos’ might come which is antibiotic-resistant and we don’t even know so it’s a fine delicate balance,” he added.

The three-second rule is based on the idea that if food spends only a short time on the floor, it won't have enough contact with germs to become contaminated. Some experiments have shown that food can indeed pick up harmful bacteria almost instantly upon contact with contaminated surfaces. 

For example, a study conducted at Rutgers University found that bacteria can transfer to food in less than one second. Another study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that moist foods, such as watermelon and bread, are more likely to pick up bacteria than dry foods when dropped on the floor.

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However, other research has suggested that the length of time food spends on the floor does play a role in the amount of bacteria transferred. A study published in the journal Food Safety in 2016 found that the longer food remained in contact with a contaminated surface, the more bacteria it picked up. This study supported the idea that the three-second rule may have some validity, at least under certain conditions.

One of the key factors that influence the likelihood of contamination is the type of surface the food falls on. Porous surfaces, such as carpets or rugs, are more likely to harbour bacteria than smooth, hard surfaces like tile or linoleum. Additionally, the cleanliness of the surface and the presence of moisture can also affect bacterial transfer.

Moreover, foods with higher moisture content provide a better environment for bacteria to thrive, while dry foods are less likely to support bacterial growth. Additionally, foods that are already contaminated with bacteria are more likely to transfer those bacteria to the floor and then back to the food upon contact.