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Five-second food rule proven by research

The supposed old wives tale that food dropped on the floor for five seconds is safe to eat has been proven to be a fact by Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology, at Aston University in Birmingham, England, and colleagues according to a March 10, 2014, report at Aston University’s website.

Caricature illustrating the five-second rule.
Pengo This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

The researchers clocked the transfer of two common disease producing bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus, from carpet, laminate, and tiled surfaces to a piece of toast, pasta, a cookie, and a sticky sweet treat.

The tests lasted from three to 30 seconds.

The researchers found that the rate of bacterial transfer from flooring depends on the type of flooring, the length of time that the food was in contact with the flooring, and the type of food.

Carpets produced a slower rate of transfer of bacteria to any type of food than laminated floors or tiled floors.

Toast was least likely to contract bacteria in five seconds from any type surface. Toast with jelly became infected with bacteria faster. Sweet foods that were moist had the fastest rate of acquiring bacterial contamination.

The researchers also made a survey of people who practice the five-second rule and found that 87 percent of people surveyed had eaten food they had dropped on the floor.

A report by Paul Dawson at Clemson University comes to the opposite conclusion.

Perhaps the five-second rule works across the pond but not in the U. S.

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