Business Etiquette Dining Tips and Table Manners Advice Q & A


Q. – The 5 Second Rule – food off the floor and Dropped Silverware?

When you drop something on the floor of a restaurant, are you supposed to pick it up? What if it is dropped food? What is the proper dining etiquette?  I’ve seen some people pick up a fallen fork and some people leave them on the floor. I use the 5 second rule for food at home. If you do it quickly, can you pick it up?

 – Danny Dropsy in Detroit

Canadian dining etiquette expert shares Dropped Cutlery Dining Etiquette Tips – Does The Five Second Rule Apply?A. – Dear Danny

For those who don’t know, the five second rule (scientific name is Slow Germ Theory) purports that if you pick fallen food off the floor within 5 seconds, the germs won’t have enough time figure out how to attach themselves to it.

5 Second Rule Debunked

Sounds like voodoo to me. It might have worked for old-fashioned germs but modern bacteria have been working out (or taking steroids) and are able to contaminate food in nano seconds.

Dropsy Rules

So here are our simple dropped food rules and table manners tips for dining out when you have the dropsies:

  • Fallen utensils: Anything that falls on the floor should not go back on the table. Get the server’s attention and leave it there for them to take care of. They need to get you a new utensil. (If they wipe it off on a napkin and hand it back to you – they believe bacteria are weenies too and you’re going to the wrong class of restaurants.)
  • Fallen food: Check if anyone else noticed and just leave it on the floor. (If some one has noticed, just smile sheepishly.) If it will cause a mess, get the server’s attention.
  • Fallen napkins: If your napkin falls on the floor, you can pick it up yourself and put it back on your lap. More napkin tips and advice – Why you’d better not put your napkin on a dirty plate.

If you believe in the five second rule for eating food off the floor, our advice is to keep it for home use when you’re dining by yourself. Just have your cell phone and 911 handy. (Click for fun and facts about the 5 second rule)

P.S. – Our online video training – Dining for Success demonstrates silverware handling and hundreds of other dining etiquette tips that guarantee you appear sophisticated and confident in your business and social dining.

Posted by Terry Pithers – Canadian Business Dining Etiquette Expert and sometimes 5 second ruler.

About the author 

Terry Pithers

Canadian speaker, humorist and business etiquette expert. If you are interested in booking me for a presentation, keynote or workshop, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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