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The “5 Second Rule” is NOT a Myth

Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Are you a strong supporter of the “5 second rule?” It turns out that even though most scientist think it is a myth, it may actually be true. If you drop food on the ground and manage to pick it up and eat it within 5 seconds, then it will not be contaminated with as much bacteria then if you let it sit for an extended period of time.

According to the Aston University website

The study, undertaken by final year Biology students and led by Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University, 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. 

The results showed that: 

  • Time is a significant factor in the transfer of bacteria from a floor surface to a piece of food; and
  • The type of flooring the food has been dropped on has an effect, with bacteria least likely to transfer from carpeted surfaces and most likely to transfer from laminate or tiled surfaces to moist foods making contact for more than 5 seconds.

The Aston team also carried out a survey of the number of people who employ the five-second rule. The survey showed that: 

  • 87% of people surveyed said they would eat food dropped on the floor, or already have done so
  • 55% of those that would, or have, eaten food dropped in the floor are women
  • 81% of the women who would eat food from the floor would follow the 5 second rule


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