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article imageDoes the 5-second rule really work?

By Tim Sandle     Mar 12, 2014 in Science
Aston - Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time, according to new research.
The new research suggests that there may be some scientific basis to the '5 second rule' -- the urban myth about it being fine to eat food that has only had contact with the floor for five seconds or less.
For the study, a research group monitored the transfer of the common bacteria Escherichia 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 three to 30 seconds.
What the researchers found was:
Time is a significant factor in the transfer of bacteria from a floor surface to a piece of food,
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 researchers also carried out a survey of the number of people who employ the five-second rule. The survey showed that:
87 percent of people surveyed said they would eat food dropped on the floor, or already have done so,
55 percent of those that would, or have, eaten food dropped in the floor are women,
81 percent of the women who would eat food from the floor would follow the five-second rule.
The study was carried out by Aston University's School of Life and Health Sciences.
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