Five-Second Rule Is Real, Study Finds

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You always knew it, right?


A new study out of Birmingham, England, tested the five-second rule—you know, the theory that if you drop food on the floor, you're safe from sickness-inducing bacteria as long as it touches said floor for less than five seconds—and found that it actually holds, at least under certain circumstances.

For the study, the research team used a bunch of different kinds of food, including pasta, toast, biscuit, ham, dried fruit and a sticky dessert, and tested the germ-transfer process on a number of floor types. They were specifically looking for whether and how long it took E. coli and Staphylococcus to glom on to food.

The findings, as reported in the New York Daily News:

Researchers found time an extremely important factor in bacterial transfers, with the type of flooring involved also having an effect. For example, bacteria has less chance of making contact with food on carpeting and was more likely to transfer when on laminate or tiled surfaces, especially when food was moist and left on the floor for more than 5 seconds.

So basically, drier food, like toast, that drops on a less-bacteria-ridden surface, like carpet, is the safest bet, but most foods can get away with touching floors for under five seconds without causing too much worry, according to this study.

Of course, if you drop your food on the subway platform, you should assume it's a goner. You know, in case you needed clarification.

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