Five-Second Rule On Food ‘Exists’

New Research Examines Link Between Contact With Floor And Bacteria

13.03.2014

The urban myth of a ’five-second rule’ which means food is still fine to be consumed if it has only been on the floor for a short amount of time could have scientific basis, according to new research.

The study by Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences revealed that food picked up just seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it was left for longer period of times on the floor.

It specifically examined the transfer of E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria from several floor types to different food groups. The study confirmed time is a factor in the transfer of bacteria and that such bacteria is less likely to transfer from carpeted surfaces than laminate or tiled floors.

The researchers also found that 87 per cent of people would eat food dropped on the floor, with the majority being women.

Professor Anthony Hilton, professor of microbiology at Aston University, said: “Our study showed that a surprisingly large majority of people are happy to consume dropped food, with women the most likely to do so. But they are also more likely to follow the 5 second rule, which our research has shown to be much more than an old wives' tale.”

Expert Opinion
While this research is a rather light-hearted take on the subject, any research on the issue of bacteria transfer to food has to be welcomed.

"Through our work, we see numerous cases when people have suffered long-term health problems as a result of food-related illness outbreaks which could and should have been avoided through the use of proper hygiene standards.

"The only way to improve the guidance offered on hygiene issues is to gain a better understanding of the key issues in the area and a study of this nature shines an important spotlight on this.

"We hope that more research can be carried out into the issue of food hygiene to ensure that businesses and the general public can learn more about how to mitigate the risks of potential infection."
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner