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‘Five second rule’ is real, says scientist

There is an often-cited myth that if you drop food on the floor, it will be fit to eat if it is picked up within five seconds. A scientist has carried out research that suggests there may be some truth to this.

Professor Anthony Hilton, a professor of microbiology, researched dropping food on the floor and announced:

“Although retrieving these morsels can never be completely without risk, there is little to be concerned about if the food is only there momentarily.”

The professor dropped food including toast, biscuits, pasta and sticky sweets onto various floor coverings for from 3 seconds, to half a minute. All the floors contained the bacteria E.coli and he measured the amount of it that was transferred to the food.

He concluded that both how long the food remained on the floor and the type of surface affected bacteria transfer. As you would expect, the longer the food was in contact with the floor, the greater the number of bacteria was transferred. Laminate floors transferred more bacteria than carpeted ones.

Although the research suggests that leaving food on the floor for a few seconds and then eating it is not a high health risk, Professor Hilton believes that there is still some risk from eating food that has been on the floor, and of course unclean floors can be very unsightly and unpleasantly smelly. Professional carpet cleaning, whether in North Wales or Liverpool, is recommended to keep your carpets free of harmful bacteria.

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