The five-second rule on eating dropped food is not an old wives’ tale; it has some basis in reality, though whether or not the food that you drop will be still safe to eat up to five seconds after it hits the floor depends on what type of floor it hits, and how clean the floor is in the spot where the food lands. The study hasn’t been published yet, but the findings about the five-second rule come from research done in Britain by Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences.
While there are exceptions, the research is preliminary evidence that confirms what people have long believed — the degree of contamination from bacteria that food dropped on the floor is directly related to how long the food remains on the floor. If the floor is relatively clean, at least in some cases it probably won’t hurt you if you eat food dropped onto it within five seconds after it lands.
Microbiology professor Anthony Hilton led the research team, made up of a group of biology students. The researchers compared the amounts of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and E. coli that were present on different types of food after they had been on various types of floors for between 3-30 seconds.
Hilton and his team would like to make it clear that, although the likelihood you’d become contaminated from eating food might be lower if it’s only been on the floor for up to five seconds, it is still possible that you may become infected by whatever bacteria might be present on the particular spot on the floor the food hits.
The types of food that the researchers used in the study included sticky, sweet foods, cookies, pasta, and toast. They dropped the food onto laminate and tiled surfaces, and also carpet.
What floor surfaces are more likely to sicken you if you follow the five-second rule?
While whether or not you become sickened after you eat food dropped onto a floor within five seconds has to do a lot with the amount of harmful bacteria already present on it, some types of floor surfaces appear to be more prone to harbor harmful bacteria than others.
For example, the group of students led by Hilton discovered that the amount of bacteria present on a floor and transferred to food dropped upon it was lowest with carpeted surfaces.
Even if you follow the five-second rule, the most likely surface and type of food that might cause you to be contaminated by harmful bacteria would be tiled or laminate surfaces and moist types of food. These sorts of food and floor surfaces are more conducive to leading you to experience sickness due to harmful bacteria contaminating the food that’s been dropped.
The results of a survey that accompanied the study were quite interesting. When asked if they would use the five-second rule, 87 percent of the people who responded to the question answered that they would.
According to Hilton, women were the most likely to eat food dropped onto the floor, but only within the five-second margin of time. It came as somewhat of a surprise to him that “a large majority of people are happy to consume dropped food.”
Although the study conducted by Hilton and his group of student researchers has not yet been peer-reviewed nor published, the findings present the intriguing possibility that the so-called five second rule has an actual scientific basis.
While The Guardian Liberty Voice does not advocate that you try out the five second rule for yourselves, the findings of Hilton and his team of researchers represent compelling preliminary evidence to suggest that the five second rule is not just an Old Wives’ tale.
Written by: Douglas Cobb