What to Do If You Drop Food on the Floor


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What to Do if You Drop Food On the Floor

As children we had this figured out; dropping food on the floor was never a problem because we ate it anyway. My cousin tells me that in his part of the city, all children lived by the five-second rule: 'if you can pick it up within five seconds you can eat it.' In my part of the city we could drop but still eat, anything, as long as we 'wiped it off and kissed it up to God.' I suspect children all over the world have similar solutions.

As adults, though, we have to behave differently. If we see a child snatching up a dropped cookie or picking it up, kissing it and raising it skyward we think 'oh remember that, how cute!' However, if we see an adult doing the same thing, we may instantly think 'wow, a degenerate!'

Therefore, with a budget-conscious populace out there, I have compiled a useful list of what to do when you drop certain foods on the floor. Note: This only applies to your kitchen floor and not a subway station or public toilet.

If you drop:

  • A banana: I never drop a banana on the floor, but I have dropped it in the sink. What happens is the banana is on the counter, I pick it up, and as I am peeling it, the top half falls into the sink, plop. While a sink may still have residue from chicken (salmonella), beef (e.coli), and fish (mercury), because the faucet is there we tend to think 'clean.' Go ahead and rinse it off, just know that it will become a bit slimy. If you drop it on the floor and it doesn't roll you can examine it for filth then slice off the part that's not too bad. If it rolls you may want to forget it.
  • A scoop of ice cream: This is the only thing that I drop on the floor. I buy ice cream by the pint to avoid eating a gallon at a time. Therefore, I cannot use a scoop, I use a tablespoon. No matter how long I let the ice cream sit and thaw, it's still a struggle to dig out enough to make the effort worthwhile. Invariably, one tablespoon full will go flying. I can never catch it. Throw this little bit down the drain. However, if you eat ice cream by the tub, you use a big scoop, and then drop some, you can salvage quite a bit. The rounded top portion is still clean. If your cat or dog is lapping it up you may not want it, but that's a personal decision. At that time it depends on your ice cream state of mind and how much is left in the tub. If you are stressed out and that was your last scoop, then it's okay to fight off the cat and dog and salvage what you can.
  • Various meats: if you're lucky enough to find meat that hasn't been contaminated and possibly scheduled to be recalled due to e.coli* you can pick it up, rinse it and cook it, you probably won't be doing any more harm that what has already been done to the meat, even if you step on it with outdoor shoes.
  • Chicken: I don't know about you, but I find a chicken leg hilarious. Maybe it's the shape, and dropping it makes it even funnier. Imagining it down there on the floor, I'd have a hard time advising you to pick it up and cook it, but actually you can. Since you have to be aware of salmonella** and have to thoroughly wash chicken anyway—go ahead and pick it up—the floor is probably cleaner than the counter which, as you are reading this, is still multiplying with salmonella and e.coli. I find it odd that chicken thighs are not funny, nor are wings and the breast.
  • Fish: this is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid, and mercury. But there is something honorable about fish and therefore it should not be disrespected. If you drop your mercury, I think you should honor it by throwing it away.
  • Eggs: quickly pick up this excellent source of protein and rinse it off in cool water. When I peel an egg, I always rinse it anyway for some reason. It gets a little tricky, though, because of the oval shape which may allow it to roll in that funny way. If you have to chase it across the floor you should probably toss it.
  • Fruit and vegetables: if you drop any of these GM*** items you can really leave them on the floor and go take a bath, stroll around the lake, even forget about them for a few days. They are designed to last. Come back at your leisure and rinse them off. Even the filthiest floor cannot do much harm to this stuff. However, if your veggies and fruit are organic, or locally grown by your friendly struggling farmer then, by all means, scoop them up right away, rinse them and eat them and enjoy them and share them with friends and family. Good, nutritious, fresh food is meant to be shared and never wasted.
  • Popcorn: I never drop popcorn but some always lands on the floor (see photo below). What happens is I make it in a pot on the stove and as I am transferring it to a bowl there are always a few kernels that will suddenly pop and shoot off to some unknown place. Forget about them; they are never worth the effort to look for. They'll show up eventually. Even years later when you find them they will look the same. One of the largest GM crops here in the US is corn.
  • Cookies and candy: you are no longer a child so throw this away if you drop it. This is considered snack food which is another name for junk. If nothing else, by throwing away what you drop you will eat a little bit less.
  • Chocolate: if it is milk chocolate, toss it. However, if it is dark chocolate like 60%–90%, it is worth salvaging for the nutritional value. Dark chocolate has antioxidants and has been proven to be good for cardiovascular health. You will also notice that milk chocolate will quickly pick up cat hair and vermin, probably due to the intentionally creamy consistency. Dark chocolate is denser. Don't wash it though. If something weird is on it—think of it like hard cheese and just scrape it off.
  • The ubiquitous sandwich: I'm pretty fed up with the whole idea of the homemade sandwich. Sliced store-bought bread just has no flavor. Granted, lately many brands have been removing the HFCS**** but still the near-invisible list of a bunch of unbreadlike ingredients doesn't make it any tastier. Then you add GM lettuce, perhaps a protein that will be recalled or should be, or something with mercury, or salmonella, and oh yeah should you cut it straight down the middle, or diagonally, or lah de dah, how about removing the crust, like that's going to make the whole pile any better. No, the whole idea sickens me so if you drop a sandwich, good! Toss it. We all deserve better.

Does the kitchen flooring matter?

You bet it does. If you have:

  • Carpet (for some unknown reason): just know that everything that has ever flown in your window, or every time blood was spilled, a drunk didn't make it to the sink, or you didn't make it to the toilet in time, etc. everything, and I do mean everything, is all still in that carpet. Everything you drop on kitchen carpet should be thrown out, even if it's a blouse or socks (throw out the carpet too). This is a good time to have a glass of wine or cup of green tea and try to figure out why you have carpet in the kitchen.
  • Linoleum: the absolute best floor covering for dropping food! Linoleum covered the floors in our parent's/grandparent's homes. It is now being sold as eco-friendly because it is made from linseed oil, mineral pigments, cork, and other natural ingredients. Most importantly, it has natural bactericidal properties, probably making it cleaner than your sink, your counter, and your hands. You can pick up anything you drop on this eco-friendly floor and feel proud while you are retrieving it.
  • Vinyl: after covering practically every kitchen floor in America with this product we now find that it is a major source of indoor pollution. Vinyl flooring is known for outgassing and thus releasing VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). So if you pick up what you drop, think of it as being seasoned with a bit of VOC. I'd toss it.
  • Stone, ceramic, marble, other hard surfaces: I have a ceramic floor in my kitchen. You can safely pick up anything from a hard surface. However, if your hard floor is cracked like mine, no doubt some filth is deeply ingrained in the crack. Whatever you drop will most likely fall directly on the crack, then you should toss it. If it doesn't fall on that suspicious crack then you can rinse it off.

What if you are cooking for a guest(s) and drop food?

Always, always, throw out food you dropped if it is for a guest, especially if you just looked over your shoulder to see if you were being observed. But just know that even if the guest is on the other side of a wall, meat slapping down on a floor sounds like dynamite to the ears of a nervous guest. Don't pretend to throw it in a garbage bag while slipping it into the junk drawer, your guest will suddenly develop x-ray vision to go along with the new acute sense of hearing. Scoop up the droppings, drop it all in a garbage bag, even remove it from the premises, come back and wash your hands, but not at the kitchen sink. All dropped food that you are preparing for someone else should immediately be thrown out, especially if you ever, in your lifetime, plan to eat at that person's house.

What if you are cooking for your family and drop food?

Family is different. If your family is greedy you can probably drop all the food you want and they won't even flinch. If they are a lazy bunch they probably won't risk commenting lest you screech out that they can do it themselves. But you probably should always rinse it off.

On the daily menu: (See the cdc.gov for further information about the following found in our food supply and the resulting dangers and recalls).

  • *Salmonella: any of various rod-shaped bacteria of the genus, Salmonella, many of which are pathogenic and can cause food poisoning, typhoid, paratyphoid fever.
  • **e.coli: is Escherichia coli, a large and diverse group of bacteria. It has caused illness and major disease outbreaks in the US.
  • ***Genetically Modified: combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology. The resulting organisms are said to be 'genetically engineered,' 'genetically modified,' or 'transgenic.' These products include food, food ingredients, feeds, medicine, and vaccines.
  • ****High Fructose Corn Syrup: any group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing. A common sugar substitute found in nearly all processed foods.

Enjoy your meal!

What if you dropped expensive food you prepared for your guest?

popcorn on the floor


© 2009 BkCreative


What on July 13, 2020:

Wow. I came for the section about chicken and my god you sound like a psychopath.

annkafumn on August 16, 2015:

every time I feel blue or down in the dumps...I read this!! and I feel better...hee hee

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 12, 2012:

Thanks (hahahaha) so much for that tip Jane! And you are right - we are certainly tougher than we think! Glad you lived and wrote about it!

Jane on March 11, 2012:

My husband put a crockpot of sloppy joe meat in his trunk. After it fell over, dumping the contents into the trunk, he scooped the meat back up and placed the crockpot into the refrigerator where I -- unaware of any of this -- took out a generous portion and ate it. This car is 19 years old and has a trunk that leaks when it rains.

If I live through this (and he lives through this) you can assume that anything you retrieve from the floor probably won't kill you.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 11, 2012:

Thanks so much Robyn. I love your comment and I love how resourceful children are.

plaid pages from Wisconsin on March 10, 2012:

Oh my. I'm still giggling. I have three kids and if we didn't eat what we drop, we'd starve. heehee

Great hub!


BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 15, 2012:

Hilarious venesia! I suppose in moderation very little can harm you. Thanks for writing!

venesia on January 14, 2012:

Interesting hub! It's funny because my friends and I always argue about this. I'm especially guilty.

One day, during lunch (high school), my friend dropped her chips, and she and I scrambled to pick them up. Her boyfriend was watched in horror as we continued to eat them.

Worse was when we dropped french fries at a theme park, and as a dare we picked them up, coated them with condiments and ate some.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 04, 2012:

How very clever Seleman! Thanks for sharing that bit of fun!

Seleman on January 04, 2012:

We use to say that Satan licked the food when it's stay on the floor for few seconds. So we had to pick it up fast.


BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on December 07, 2011:

Many other cultures have the right idea when they call this stuff frankenfood - it's not food to begin with.

taytay480 on December 06, 2011:

what happens to your food

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on October 07, 2011:

Ellyn I wouldn't take a chance with anything called an oven fry. I'd go with yes and another yes here.

Ellyn on October 06, 2011:

what happens if you drop, say a frozen oven fry, on the floor then cook it - do all the nasties still cling to that oven fry after cooking? And if all the naties do still cling to that oven fry then do all the nasties spread themselves throughout the whole tray of oven fries?

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on April 15, 2011:

So true Stephanie Henkel - I've read that good soil in the garden has a multitude of benefits. And packaged foods - argh! And ewwww...

Thanks for commenting! Yay!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on April 13, 2011:

This was a fun read and I'm now convinced that all the vegetables and berries we picked with dirty hands when we were kids and gobbled up right in the garden were safer than the food we unpackage and drop in our sinks. Ewwww....

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on November 15, 2010:

Thanks for your absolute honesty awesome77. I'm glad you saw the humor here - and for sure - it depends on what it is. It's nice to meet a new hubber. Yay!

awesome77 on November 15, 2010:

Well this calls for some honesty. Sometimes I do pick the food up, depending on my mood and what type of food. I know it might be poisonous but instant reaction sometimes overrules common sense. Great hub you have here and i would put a stop to that habit pronto!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on August 24, 2010:

Thanks so much World-Traveler. I enjoyed writing this and I'm glad you found it fun to read. Thanks for commenting. I'm enjoying your amazing hubs!

World-Traveler from USA on August 24, 2010:

This is good and interesting advice. This was also fun to read!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on April 24, 2010:

I love that we are so honest about the 5sec. rule, Tina. Thanks for sharing that. I will check out your hubs!

Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on April 24, 2010:

Very funny. We do the 5sec. rule. i would like to invite you to read some of my hubs and let me know what you think.

Thanks, Tina

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on April 13, 2010:

I forget the role that dogs play in the 'food dropped on the floor' scenario - you can pretty much forget it - if they want it, anything on the floor is their plate.

Thanks so much for the compliment theherbivorehippi!

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on April 13, 2010:

OMG! I LOVE this hub!! I am laughing...only because, I probably would live by the five second rule if dropped food stood a chance against my dogs! lol What a wonderful hub!!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on April 06, 2010:

How great to do such a research paper. This hub is all done in humor, to of course, point out the more serious issues of the inferior quality of industrialized 'food' stuff. Ugh! Such as e.coli, GM, salmonella, HFCS, mercury in fish, etc. Dropping the food on the floor becomes pretty much irrelevant.

Michele on April 06, 2010:

I'm doing a research paper on dropping food on the floor pertaining to the 5 second rule. After conducting this paper no matter how expensive the food is where I drop it, counter, sink, floor, carpet, baby's tray. No matter how much of a clean freak I am. I can honestly say Ill never pick it up and eat it nor will I give it to my family. To all of you who will, do the research is the effects of what can happen to you worth it?

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 29, 2010:

Thanks for commenting Michael Shane. I'm sure more people eat off the floor or out of garbage cans - and any and everywhere else.

I'm glad you LOLed!

Michael Shane from Gadsden, Alabama on March 29, 2010:

Yep!, I'm guilty of the 3 second rule! Well, it depends on the floor, what I dropped, & how hungry I am at the time..LOL! Awesome hub!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 26, 2010:

It pays to be careful!

maddson on March 26, 2010:

we do not drop any

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 10, 2010:

Thanks so much for writing Chin Chin. I wondered about this with so many folks being on a budget. And according to the poll it seems like many people will just go ahead and pick it up. Everyone has a rule.

So nice to meet you by the way!

Chin chin from Philippines on March 10, 2010:

I like how you made this a fun hub to read. I used to hear this comment when food is dropped on the floor. They say "it's not yet 5 seconds besides when the food dropped, all the germs ran away." Honestly, sometimes (just like in the case of dropping delicious dark chocolate) I am still guilty of breaking this rule. Just think of the wastage that goes to the food you throw away when you obey this rule.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on March 04, 2010:

That's hilarious - because your little one would certainly copy you - and tell everyone that you do it! Yes, we do what we must and what we think is best. As long as we do an analysis - and have a good laugh - it is perfectly OK!

Dmrfam from India on March 04, 2010:

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your hub..it reminded me of all the analysis I do to save the food I dropped. I should confess, I try my best not to show my 20 month old baby I put some food into my mouth which he would have dropped. I hope he never catches me doing it. The rule for him for now is nothing from the floor.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on February 22, 2010:

Sounds interesting mulberry1! True there are so many variables, soooo complex, and yet it seems right now most people in the poll will pick it up of the floor - no matter what. I think the best people to ask are probably toddlers.

I'm glad you gave this some serious thought!

Christine Mulberry on February 22, 2010:

It is a complex decision, you kind of have to assign a weight to the various factors to arrive at the correct solution. For instances, a recently mopped floor can outweigh the fact you'll be serving guest. I think I'll have my engineering hubby work up an algorithm!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 29, 2010:

Well, I guess it just makes so much sense Misterlak - good food is worth picking up. And according to the poll it seems it is not just children picking up food but adults too!

Misterlak on January 29, 2010:

omg.. well we always had a 10 sec rule :-)

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 21, 2010:

You're very welcome Dao Hoa! It seems the 5 second rule is still very popular. Thank you for the compliment!

Dao Hoa on January 21, 2010:

Wow! It is a great hub. Yes, my kids used the 5 seconds rule too. LOL! Thank you for writing this hub.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 19, 2010:

Well Awesome guy - you are not alone. Just looking at the poll above, nearly 60% of people said they would pick up the food and eat it. And 17% said they were not sure - but you know and I know that means - they will eat it. And I'm thinking it depends on what fell, especially if you have been drooling for it!

And this thing called 'dumpster diving'? - seems more people than ever are eating out of the garbage. Your friend is part of a large crowd.

Thanks for writing. I like knowing what teenagers are doing. And such honesty - great!

Awesome guy on January 19, 2010:

I'm 16 and I do it, I was at lunch at school the other day qand someone knocked my grilled cheese sandwich on the floor while I was walking to my table. I stared at it for a second and when somebody piped up and said" You better not eat that!" I picked it up and took a big bite out of it. I also have a friend who will eat food he digs out of the garbage that other people have thrown away. That however is too much for me.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 13, 2010:

Ew! What a reminder of how powerful that nicotine addiction is - anything for smoke. Good point because I have known smokers to be so fussy about so many things but not about putting a cigarette in the mouth. Yikes!

Thanks for commenting!

anonymous82 on January 13, 2010:

Nice to meet you too!

Here's another one for you: Have you ever watched a smoker drop a cigarette on the ground, then pick it up and put it back in her mouth, then drop her food in the same spot and refuse to eat it? What's the difference?

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 12, 2010:

Your dad was a very wise man anonymous82! Good point about outside being safer - so many reports are showing that inside our homes is at least 5 times more toxic than outside.

Enjoy your funny chicken legs! (Nice to meet you too by the way!)

anonymous82 on January 12, 2010:

"It's not dirty till it's fallen twice!" said my Dad...and that was when we dropped it outdoors. Outdoors is mostly okay for dropped food as well, because the dirt is organic and safer than most cleaning products we use today.

P.S. I'm having chicken legs for supper :) Seriously.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on January 05, 2010:

Ah kids today itakins - they will chuck anything. But in my day - nothing was going in the garbage! Good Irish expression - it makes sense!

itakins from Irl on January 05, 2010:

There's a great expression here in Ireland ,used by older people when food drops-'Whatever it has gained ,it has lost nothing'! That old 5 sec rule-brilliant-we used to kiss it and bless ourselves with it;my kids ,they say yuk,and chuck it!

6inchbootmbtking on December 30, 2009:

Thank you!




BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 17, 2009:

Hello bingskee!

I admire your friend for being so out there - so honest. Most adults still hide this - although they admit they do it - you just don't see it happening. Hmmmm. The poll is showing that 60% of people will pick up the food - but who - who are these people? Hmmmmm.

bingskee from Quezon City, Philippines on September 17, 2009:

this reminds me of a friend when she drops food on the table and picks it fast to eat it or return it to her plate, she will exclaim, "Live dangerously!"

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 08, 2009:

You know pddm67 - a roast is good for pulling the old 'dropping while being transferred and onto the floor and let's see if they eat me now' routine - I agree with your Mom - after all that work - it is roast time - be it a pot roast or floor roast!

I wonder now just how many things I have eaten that fell on someone's floor! But I kind of figure anything that hits the floor in someone's home is better than what goes on in a restaurant or fast food joint!

pddm67 from Queens, New York on September 08, 2009:

Too funny! Reminds me of the time my mom dropped the roast on the kitchen floor while transfering it from the pan to the platter, it rolled around a bit, she picked it up, looked it over, put it back on the platter, and then looked at me and said, "Don't you dare say anything to anybody!", I didn't (it was just family - alot of family), but suffice it to say, I did not have any of the roast that day. Kudos!

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 07, 2009:

Mighty Mom I so value your opinion so I am glad you read this and enjoyed it!

I find myself writing a lot about food and nutrition - and I try not to get too serious about the whole thing because then I bore myself - so I decided on this hub. I think mainly because when I eat with friends and family we do laugh a lot! Food can be funny.

Can't you just see a chicken leg now? And can't you just laugh?

I really enjoyed Elf - Will Ferrell makes me laugh every single time - but the gum - Ewww!

Thanks so much for your comment!

Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on September 07, 2009:

BKCreative -- this is HILLARIOUS! I don't know how you even came up for the idea for this hub but it's just fabulous.

Hard to pick out a favorite line among oh, so many. But have to agree with you. Why are chicken legs funny but the other chicken parts are not? Weird!

Thumbs up on this one.

P.S. How do you feel about picking gum off handrails like Will Ferrell did in Elf:-). Guh-ross, eh?

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on September 07, 2009:

You know Bryan - I am hearing more and more people not even considering throwing out food they drop on the floor. There was a time we used to throw it out - not children of course!

Glad you enjoyed the article!

Bryan on September 07, 2009:

Loved this article. Very funny. I forgot about the kissing it up to God bit. Yah, used to do all that in my neighbourhood. Very good. Brought back memories.

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on July 02, 2009:

Brilliant! I think it does depend on the food -   some things you may just kick aside. And of course those ice pops are water anyway - just wash it.

Good advice - we are in a recession so if our kids don't know the 5 second rule - we must teach them! And shame - what's that?

Thanks Jo for writing!

jo...... on July 02, 2009:

It depends on the food.....my house, it is the 5sec rule, but most of the time, the kids say no and throw it away..then I remind them we are in a recession so the 5sec rule does not count, especially if you want me to cook something else because there is no more and your's just fell on the floor. I tell them not to throw away popsickles, because it is mostly water anyway, just wash it off, imagine paying $2 or $3 for ice cream, they drop it, and now it is garbage, noooooo. Which is why I mostly buy from the store and tell them to stop telling the ice cream man to stop unless you are giving him one out of our freezer. Ok, I hope I have giving you some insite on how kids are raised in my household, I know I should be ashame of myself, but I am not...........

BkCreative (author) from Brooklyn, New York City on July 02, 2009:

I admit ajm5050 that I am a big big popcorn fan too which is why I often have some on the floor (like in the photo)! I'll have to rethink the harshness of my comment!

ajm5050 from NY on July 02, 2009:

These are all useful information, but somehow I couldn't stop laughin while I was reading them. I could relate to some, but you say popcorn are not worth the bother? I beg to differ Bk, Popcorns are too delicious to receive such harsh comment :)

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