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Aston University investigates the truth behind the “Five Second Rule”

Researchers at Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences claim to be able to give some credence to the urban myth that food is safe to eat providing it hasn’t spent more than five seconds on the floor.

The study highlighted attitudes towards the practice, suggesting that 87% of people who were surveyed admitted to either already having eaten food from the floor, or reported having no issue with doing so.

Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University, and his team of final year students monitored common bacteria such as E.Coli and MRSA, and the ease with which it transfers to different foods, such as toast and pasta, from different floor types.

They allowed the various food types to make contact with the surfaces for between 3 to 30 seconds.

The results showed that time spent on the surface appears to be one of the primary factors for transfer of bacteria, though it does also suggest that the type of surface can also have an effect, with carpeted surfaces being the least likely to transfer bacteria when compared with tiled surfaces. The study also indicated that the type of food also makes a difference; for example, tiled floors transferred bacteria to moist food quicker than dry food.

Professor Hilton went on to say that there is still a risk of infection, as it largely depends on how clean the floor is already. While the conclusion has been called “light relief”, it carries a serious message – whether with carpet or laminate flooring, from Liverpool to Llandudno, risks with eating food from the floor are minimal, but still present.

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