So says new research. The 5-second rule where if food is retrieved within 5 seconds of being dropped on the floor, it is safe to eat because there has not been enough time for bacteria to contaminate it, may not be a myth after all
Professor Anthony Hilton of Aston University (UK) assessed the transfer of common bacteria (Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus) between different floor types (carpet, laminate, tile) and foods(toast, pasta, biscuits and sticky candy) for varying lengths of time (between 3 and 30 seconds)
Results of the analysis revealed:
- The time is a significant factor in how much bacteria is transferred – the longer food is left on the floor, the more bacteria it picks up
- The type of floor surface matters as far as the amount of bacteria transferred-less likely with carpet and most likely with laminate or tile
“Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time. However, the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the 5-second rule for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth.” So Said Professor Hilton
This is also good news because as part of the study participants were asked if they had eaten food dropped on the floor.
“Our study showed that a surprisingly large majority of people (87%) are happy to consume dropped food, with women the most likely to do so (55%). But they are also more likely to follow the 5 second rule (81%), which our research has shown to be much more than an old wives’ tale.”