Five-second rule not just a myth

Jamie Slater, special to

WASHINGTON — The “five-second rule” may be more than just an old wives’ tale, according to a new study from Aston University.

The study found that the longer food is on the floor, especially if it’s longer than five seconds, the more risk it has for containing bacteria. Researchers measured the transfer rate of two different types of bacteria from carpet, laminate and tiled surfaces to toast, pasta, a biscuit and a sticky sweet substance.

More surprising is the finding that the type of flooring and the type of food makes a difference. Dropping food on carpet is much safer than on laminate or tiled surfaces, and moist foods are the most likely to pick up bacteria.

Apparently, this study matters most for women, as a survey also conducted by the researchers found that 55 percent of people who would, or have, eaten food dropped on the floor are female. Thankfully, 81 percent of these women follow the five- second rule.

Overall, 87 percent of all people would or have eaten food dropped on the floor.

WTOP’s Paula Wolfson contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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