Your chocolate tumbles to the ground. You reach down, yell “three-second rule!” and stick it in your mouth. Sadly, researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have found that bacteria can contaminate food that falls on the floor instantaneously.

Associated Press writes that it might be time to reconsider the three-second rule (or five-second rule, depending where you live) when picking up food that fell on the floor or a potentially not-so-clean surface. The findings were published this month in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal and have found that bacteria can contaminate food instantaneously.

Researcher Donald Schaffner said the three-second rule is a “significant oversimplification of what actually happens when bacteria transfer from a surface to food”. But Schaffner’s research is not the first to conclude that the three-second rule is untrue.

“The research did find that longer contact time means more bacterial transfer, but that the type of food and surface is just as, or more, important. The Rutgers researchers tested watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy on stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet. They found that watermelon had the most contamination, and that transfer of bacteria is affected most by moisture,” writes Associated Press.

Source: Popular Mechanics USA

Image credit: Gratisography / Ryan McGuire