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Ovation: The Five-Second Rule Proves To Be True!

03/15/2014

FiveSecondWe’ve all done it.  We’ve dropped a piece of food on the floor, quickly picked it up, looked around to see if anyone had noticed, brushed it off and ate it anyway.  The five-second rule, a bit of folklore that says any dropped food dropped will not be significantly contaminated with bacteria if it is picked up within five seconds, has taught us all that we can get away with this, right?  Of course everyone modifies the rule a bit.  Personally, I relax the rule a bit if chocolate is involved and never apply it outdoors or with any food that is the least bit sticky.  But still we all feel a bit of guilt whenever we apply the rule and eat a fallen morsel.

New research at Aston University in Birmingham, U.K. finds that there is some truth to the fact that food is safe to eat if picked up from the floor in under five seconds.  Researchers studied the rate of bacteria transfer in food items dropped on the floor and, not surprisingly, found that the amount of time an item spent on the floor was directly related to bacteria levels.

IfYouDropThey dropped many different types of food … toast, cookies, sticky candy and pasta … studied the results and, as expected, determined that moist and sticky foods were more likely to pick up bacteria when compared to dry foods.

Foods dropped on tile and laminate floors and left to rest for five or more seconds returned slightly higher bacteria transfer levels than foods dropped on carpeting.

“We have found evidence that transfer from indoor flooring surfaces is incredibly poor, with carpet actually posing the lowest risk of bacterial transfer onto dropped food.” – Anthony Hilton, Microbiologist.

Preliminary results from the study, which have yet to be published, also concluded that 87% of people have at some point eaten food that had been dropped on the floor, more than half of which (55%) being women.

While the results of the study appear to indicate that the five-second rule is valid it is important to note that there is still some risk when eating food that has been dropped on the floor as any infection risk depends on the type of bacteria that is present on the floor at the time.

Still this news brings a bit of relief to those of us who, over the years, have picked up and eaten several dozen M&Ms and Junior Mints from the floor.

Do you use the Five-Second Rule?

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3 Comments
  1. Absolutely.

    Like

  2. thedogs'mother permalink

    If I am faster than a speeding Labrador…

    Like

  3. I have a cat, so it totally depends on the food. Something hard or not sticky? yeah. Something that can get cat hair stuck to it? no.

    Like

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