ServSafe MN and the Five-Second Rule

ServSafe MN and the 5 Second Rule


While we know that there is no five-second window for food to touch the floor under ServSafe MN regulations,if you have been in the food preparation industry for any length of time, you have heard a co-worker yell out “five-second rule!” whenever food accidentally hits the floor. We have recently come across studies and articles examining whether the five-second rule is scientifically defendable.

ServSafe MN and the 5 Second Rule

Believe it or not, there are many people out there that honestly believe that food that hits the floor is safe from contamination for at least five seconds. This five-second rule is so prevalent in food culture that scientists have studied it and CNN has even run a recent story on it.

Just to be perfectly clear, there is no such thing as the five-second rule. Food product that hits the floor for any length of time should never be served to your guests. There have been, however, some interesting findings as scientists have studied this mythological concept.

One thing that has been discovered is that the density of bacteria on any surface that food comes in contact with is the greatest factor in contamination. It seems that the amount of bacteria transferred from a dirty floor to any food product is not significantly decreased if the food spends just seconds on the floor rather than minutes.

It was noted in the study that it seems that the type of surface can make a difference. According to the data, there is a higher percentage of bacteria that will transfer to your food if you drop it onto a smooth surface such as tile over rougher surfaces such as carpeting. Before you rush to replace your kitchen floors with carpet, remember that these tests were done in a sterile environment, and we can assure you that a carpet in an industrial kitchen will soak up bacteria faster than carpeting in a sterile laboratory.

Science Does Not Support the 5 Second Rule!

Considering the data, we hope that none of you employ the five-second rule, or even a shorter three-second variation. While there is a certain level of playfulness that exists in an industrial kitchen, we also need to take care to train our staff based on ServSafe MN safety standards, especially those just getting their feet wet in the industry, to be vigilant when it comes to food safety.

Are there any other industry myths that you’d like to see us cover in an upcoming blog? Feel free to let us know in the comments section.

For over 20 years Safe Food Training has been known as the # 1 provider of food manager certification in Minnesota. We offer both instructor lead and on-line food safety certification courses. Our instructor lead courses are regularly scheduled at several central Minnesota locations. If you have special training requirements, we can even customize ServSafe training for your group. Which ever option is best for you, we would be happy to serve your needs.

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