Rejoice Dirtbags: The Five-Second Rule Is Kind Of Real

five second ruleLucky for those who will eat off the floor if no one is looking*, some science guys at Aston University conducted a study to test out the five-second rule only to discover it is sort of legit.

If you’re not a disgusting dirtbag/righteous cowboy, here’s a brief refresher on the five-second rule: If you drop food on the floor and manage to pick it up within five seconds, it’s still cool to eat it. Some think it’s an old wives tale, some think it is gross and filthy and you will get sick because the floor is covered in all sorts of gross stuff. Everyone is kind of right.

According to Salon, in order to determine if the five-second rule was real, final year biology students at Aston University “monitored the transfer of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus from the floor to food from three to 30 seconds.” They varied floor type (carpet, laminate or tiled surfaces) to see what bacteria already inhabited those surfaces and to test out how long E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus could live on each. They also varied food type (toast, pasta, biscuits and sticky sweets) to see if that made a difference in bacterial transfer.

Here’s the quick and dirty on their findings:

  • Carpet is seemingly the safest place to drop food because E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus lived on carpet for the shortest period of time.
  • On tile or laminate flooring, both time and food composition “made a perceived difference in bacterial transfer.”
  • Drier foods have lower transfer rates of bacteria, so toast off the floor is safer than sticky foods like pasta.
  • The longer food is on the floor, the more bacteria it can pick up

Basically, if you drop a piece of dry toast on the rug and pick it up lickety-split, you’re pretty safe.

Don’t get too stoked on this information. Professor Hilton from the study advices, that “Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time.”

So tell me, do you eat food off the ground? Or are you above that? I’m not as long as there’s no noticeable debris stuck to my snack.

*Many of us apparently do eat off the floor. The students conducted a survey in conjunction with the study showing that 87% have or would eat food that’s been on the floor.

via Salon//Image via Shutterstock

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    • Kaitlin Reilly

      Carpet may be safer, but it makes me cringe to think of a stick donut falling icing side down on a carpet. Maybe we should all just not drop our food?

      • Joanna Rafael

        EAT DIRT, Kaitlin!