On March 17 the US Food Safety Blog reports that the '5-second' food rule might actually be a myth.
In a new study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology it was determined that contaminants are unlikely to stick to your food in just five seconds. This theory was tested by dropping various foods on tile, laminate, and carpeted floors. While carpet is, by far, the safest surface to consume food from, as long as you aren't waiting longer than five seconds, it is relatively safe to consume the food you've picked up off the floor.
Of course, there are many variables that could change the outcome of the results, such as what is on the floors, whether the food is sticky or liquid, and whether or not pets or children have been on the floor previous to the food dropping. Overall, as long as you react within the five seconds and don't pick it up and then set it down somewhere, there is little risk of getting sick. This is great news for those that have lived by the five-second rule for many years.
Additionally, it was discovered that women were twice as likely than men to pick up food from the floor and eat it. Overall, researchers were surprised to see how many people in general were willing to pick up food off the ground and eat it, with women being much more likely than men to do so.
This is likely because women are the primary caregivers of their children. Children are messy in general. If they weren't going to get sick from all of the things that their children touch and consume, it's unlikely they would get sick from eating something off the floor that had been there for five seconds or less.