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Five-second floor food contamination rule debunked by scientists

There is a commonly held belief that if you drop food onto the floor and pick it up within 5 seconds, then it will be safe to eat as it has not had enough time to become contaminated by bacteria. Scientists at Rutgers University in the US have found this to be little more than a myth, however.

In a paper published in the journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the scientists announced that food can be contaminated by bacteria on the floor in less than a second.

Donald Schaffer, a professor of food science, says that moisture on the surface of the floor, how long the food stays in contact with the floor, and the food type are all factors that must be considered when calculating the extent of bacterial contamination.

The scientists examined four different types of food that are commonly dropped on the floor: watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummed sweets. Watermelon absorbed the most bacteria.

Different surfaces also affect the contamination process. Carpets have a low contamination rate compared to tiled floors.

Food contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella can cause sickness, so it is always wise to discard food dropped on floors. Although the scientists found that carpets are less dangerous for contaminating dropped food, this does not mean that you should let your carpets become dirty. Using professional carpet cleaning in your North Wales home or business premises to remove bugs and bacteria from the surface is a great move, but eating food dropped on it will still not be recommended.

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