Research supports "five-second rule" on dropped food

If food drops on the floor and you pick it up within five seconds, it’s still good to eat, right? Many people follow the “five-second rule,” whether it’s true or not. But a new study from Aston University in the U.K. says science confirms this urban legend, saying food picked up after five seconds is less likely to have bacteria than food left on the floor longer.

The researchers observed and recorded the transfer of common bacteria, such as E.coli Staphylococcus aureus, from different floor surfaces—tile, carpet, laminate—to toast, pasta, biscuit, and a sticky sweet. The times observed range from three to 30 seconds.

In the end, it was determined that time and the type of flooring plays a crucial role in the transfer of bacteria to food. When food has been on the floor for more than five seconds, bacteria is most likely to transfer from carpet and tile.

So who follows the five-second rule? The researchers conducted a survey and 87 percent of people say they have followed it, with 55 percent of those people being women.

However, one researcher noted that eating any food that has come in contact with a floor surface still carries a risk of infection and bacteria.

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