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The belief that food is still good to consume if it has been dropped on the floor for fewer than six seconds — a belief commonly known as the five-second rule — is real, because science.
Final year biology students at a British university found that time is a ‘significant factor’ in the transfer of bacteria from the floor to a piece of food.
The students, from Birmingham’s Aston University and working under professor of microbiology Anthony Hilton, monitored how quickly E. coli and other common bacteria spread from indoor floor surfaces to toast, pasta and other sticky foods.
As well as providing some evidence to support the five-second rule, they also found that the type of flooring is crucial in the transfer of bacteria, with carpet surprisingly the safest.
‘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 “five-second rule” for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth,’ Prof Hilton said.
Now we know, and knowing is half the battle.
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