It seems that food doesn't go bad when it hits the ground.
Recent findings suggest that the five-second rule, or dropping food on the floor and picking it up within five seconds, may have some merit after all. The findings conclude that food that is picked up off of the floor within five seconds of dropping it is not as likely to contain bacteria than it would if it had been sitting on the floor for longer.
Several biology students, led by microbiology professor Anthony Hilton, from Aston University’s School of Life and Sciences in Britain, specifically looked at the bacteria E. Coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The researchers looked at how much bacteria remained on the food after it had been dropped on the floor for anywhere from three to 30 seconds.
The researchers used pasta, toast, biscuits, and sweet, sticky food, and dropped them on carpeted, laminate, and tile surfaces.
Hilton warned that even though food may only be on the floor for a few seconds, it does not mean that it doesn’t pose a health risk. He says, “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.” He continues, “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.”
Researchers found that although food that gets dropped on the ground and remains there for a shorter period of time is less likely to get exposed to as many bacteria, the food’s texture plays a big role in determining how much bacteria it will ultimately pick up.
The group found that despite its bad reputation among homeowners, carpet is the cleanest floor surface to drop food onto. Hilton explains that carpeting carries “the lowest risk of bacterial transfer onto dropped food.” Laminate and tiled floors were found to be the worst surfaces.