5 Second Rule
(Original work of Greg Williams)

by Jac Beregenson

Taken from student blog, Hard Broiled.

Three-second, five-second, the rules are different depending on who you ask.  But nearly everyone has heard of some variation of the “five-second rule:” If you drop food on the floor, you have five seconds to pick it up before it’s unsafe to eat.

The rule amounted, for the longest time, to an old-wives’ tale, with no scientific evidence to support it.  Aston University in the United Kingdom recently announced that a final-year Biology project might have changed that.

According to a statement by the university, a study led by Professor of Microbiology Anthony Hilton, “monitored the transfer of the common bacteria Escherichia coli (E.Coli) and Staphylococcus aureus from a variety of indoor floor types.”

The key controlled variable in the study was the time the food was left on the floor—anywhere from 3 to 30 seconds.

The statement indicates that time is indeed a factor in the transfer of bacteria from floor to food, and that the type of floor material has an effect as well.  The study found that laminated/tiled surfaces transferred bacteria more readily to moist foods than carpet.

“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,” Professor Hilton told Aston University News. “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.”

Read more at Hard Broiled.