Your mom was on to something when she taught you the five-second rule all those years ago.
A new study from Aston University in Birmingham, England, found that picking up your food within a few seconds of its hitting the floor is a legitimate way to prevent food contamination.
The study, according to the researchers, “monitored the transfer of the common bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus from a variety of indoor floor types (carpet, laminate and tiled surfaces) to toast, pasta, biscuit and a sticky sweet when contact was made from 3 to 30 seconds.”
Sure enough, they report, “time is a significant factor in the transfer of bacteria from a floor surface to a piece of food.”
Lead researcher Anthony Hilton commented on the study’s findings.
“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,” he said. “However, the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the five-second rule for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth.”
It’s a good thing there’s some truth to the rule, because everyone apparently loves eating food off the floor. The researchers found that 87 percent of people who drop food on the floor said they would still eat it.
“Our study showed that a surprisingly large majority of people are happy to consume dropped food, with women the most likely to do so,” Hilton said. “But they are also more likely to follow the five-second rule, which our research has shown to be much more than an old wives' tale.”
Source: Aston University