Despite being too embarrassed to admit it, we've all used the five-second rule as justification to eat something that fell on the floor. And, according to scientists, we can keep on doing just that! What a relief.
But if you're guilty of appealing to the five-second rule, you're not alone. A recent survey found 79 percent of participants admitted to picking food off the ground, too. And experts say as long as there isn't visible dirt or germs on our food, we shouldn't worry.
"Obviously, food covered in visible dirt shouldn't be eaten, but as long as it's not obviously contaminated, the science shows that food is unlikely to have picked up harmful bacteria from a few seconds spent on an indoor floor," said Anthony Hilton, a professor and germ expert at Aston University.
And, even better, according to an Aston University study, some foods can lay on the ground for even a half hour and still not pick up a significant amount of germs. Chocolate, dry toast, and chips can sit for 30 minutes and still be OK to eat. However, candy, cooked pasta, and toast which falls on its buttered side should still follow the five-second rule.
Another interesting finding from the study is that contamination increases based on the type of surface on which your food falls. Surprisingly, researchers found there wasn't much difference in bacteria levels when food fell on the carpet. But when softer, damper food fell on laminate or tile, materials popular for kitchen floors, contamination was higher than it was for hard, dry foods.
Of course, eating food off the floor is never risk-free, but as long as you don't let it sit on the ground for say, days, your food is still safe enough to eat.