It's such a waste if your favorite food gets dropped on the floor but most people will not mind as they have the five-second rule to stick to. It's thinking that food that is lying on the floor is still safe to eat within five seconds. Previous research has scared off some people who have been practicing the five-second rule by stating that bacteria transfer happens instantly. Now, a new study has not only refuted the claims against the five-second rule but also states that the time can be extended for up to 30 minutes for some types of food.
The study, conducted by researchers at Aston University in Birmingham, England, found that there is less risk of food contamination in the so-called five-second rule.
Out of five people, four (79 percent) would admit following the five-second rule, the Birmingham study has found. More than half (56 percent) believe that it's harmless to eat the food when it dropped on their own floors, but only 17 percent would willingly stick to the five-second rule and eat food dropped on other people's floors.
The study also has an interesting find – the five-second rule can be extended to 30 minutes. If a person does not mind a strand of pet hair from a dropped cookie, eating the treat within 30 minutes is still acceptable. This also means that there is no need to rush picking up a piece of toast that has fallen on the floor.
But what researchers found is that the five-second rule would still apply to certain types of food like pasta and sweets. The longer these foods lie on the floor, the more bacteria they are likely to attract.
To arrive at their findings, researchers led by Professor Anthony Hilton tested their theory by using different foods dropped on linoleum, tile, and carpet that have 10 million bacteria. They then measured the bacteria levels on the food after three and 30 seconds.
Certain types of food dropped on the kitchen floor made of tiles should be picked up quickly, according to the findings, and this is where the five-second rule should be applied. On carpet, however, the five-second rule does not really matter since there is no difference in the bacteria level no matter how long the food was left lying there.
Cooked pasta and iced sweets pulled in more germs over time compared to "rigid" foods like biscuits and toast, while dry foods, according to Hilton's statement to DailyMail, are generally low-risk.
"People may not realize that dry foods, hard foods are really quite low-risk. Not only do they not pick up much bacteria on impact with the floor, but they do not get any additional contamination over time."
Hilton confirmed that it is less safe to eat damp, sticky food after they have fallen off the floor so the five-second rule applies best here. But overall, the chances of becoming sick from eating food off your own kitchen floor or even following the five-second rule are "infinitesimally small."
"Obviously, food covered in visible dirt shouldn't be eaten, but as long as it's not obviously contaminated, the science shows that food is unlikely to have picked up harmful bacteria from a few seconds spent on an indoor floor.Still, with Hilton's team's findings, this does not mean that bacteria cannot transfer from floor to food. It still happens but the type of food dropped, the type of floor surface, and how long the food stays on the floor can have an impact on the number of germs that gets pulled in.
The researchers presented their findings last week at The Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham.
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