STUDY: 5-Second Rule Is Real

Floor-bound food safe to scarf

The "five-second rule" is one of those "laws" that prevails through our formative years. Though science has generally accepted the idea that within a five-second window any food dropped on the floor is fair game for consumption, it hasn't exactly supported it. Until now. New research from Britain confirms that time actually is significant in the transfer of bacteria from floor to food, the New York Daily News reports.

Researchers for the Aston University study dropped toast, pasta, biscuits, and sticky sweets, and then waited from three to 30 seconds. They found that moist foods are most likely to follow the five-second rule. Toast can sit for much longer than pasta, however. And if you’re going to drop your toast, the best place to do it is on carpet, which is the least likely surface to transfer bacteria over any period of time. Tiled and laminate flooring are not so safe for your grub.

“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,” said Professor Anthony C. Hilton, leader of the study. “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.”