You’re familiar with the five-second rule, right? If for some reason you aren’t, it’s basically a “rule” stating if food drops on the floor you can still eat it if it’s picked up within five seconds. Because the food is only on the floor for five seconds or less, there’s no time for dirt and germs to contaminate it…according to the rule. On that note, is the five-second rule legit or have we been living a life of lies?
Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences in England, conducted a study last year to put the five-second rule to the test. He monitored the transfer of common bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus from different indoor floor surfaces to a variety of foods. The foods remained on the ground anywhere between three to 30 seconds.
The results of Hilton’s test prove that time is certainly a factor in the transfer of bacteria and the type of flooring (carpet, tile, wood, etc.) has an impact. “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,” he wrote in the study findings.
Moist foods that were left on the floor for over 30 seconds propose the most risk and contain up to 10 times more bacteria than food picked up after three seconds. “We believe that additional contact is being made between the moist food and the floor as it settles further onto the floor,” Hilton said.
Bottom line: the five-second rule is legit. Well, according to this study anyway.