A new study from Aston University in Birmingham, England say that the five second rule really does make a difference in terms of food safety. That's right. Pick it up before five seconds and it's safe to eat.
A team of students led by microbiology professor Anthony Hilton looked at how the transfer of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (or the bacteria that causes Staph infection) from a variety of indoor floor types (carpet, laminate, and tiled surfaces) to a variety of foods (toast, pasta, cookies, ham, dried fruit, and "sticky dessert").
Each tested round of contact lasted between three and 30 seconds.
Researchers found that "time is a significant factor in the transfer of bacteria from a floor surface to a piece of food". But be cautious. The type of flooring will also play a big role. If you dropped food on a carpet it is least likely to pick up bacteria, and food that sits on a hardwood floor for over five seconds is guaranteed to pick up something unpleasant.
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.
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