Common sense would suggest the longer food sits on the floor, the more likely it is to accumulate bacteria, but does science support our intuition?
In short, yes, it does.
Anthony Hilton, a professor of Microbiology, recently conducted a study to test the five-second rule. He and his students tested how much bacteria different foods attract when they come in contact with various types of flooring. They conducted the study at intervals ranging from 3 to 30 seconds.
Here’s what they found:
- Carpet poses the lowest risk of transferring bacteria to dropped food.
- Moist food is more likely to attract bacteria (no surprise there)
- 87% of the people polled happily consume dropped food (81% use the 5-second rule)
So, while we cannot say for sure whether the five-second rule is fact or fiction, we can argue it holds scientific legitimacy.1 The longer you wait to consume your dropped food, the more likely you are to ingest bacteria.