It's true: food that you've dropped on the floor may still be fine to eat if you pick it up within five seconds.
Researchers have this week proven the urban myth of the five-second rule; any longer and the food may start to pick up too much bacteria from the floor, and so becomes inadvisable to eat.
The surface you drop the food on also has a part to play, say the researchers from Aston University. A carpet is the healthiest surface as bacteria is less likely to transfer to the food within the five seconds, while the least favourable is the tiled or laminated floor.
Much also depends on the cleanliness of the floor and the type of bacteria on the surface, says Anthony Hilton, the university's professor of microbiology. But, in general, the five-second rule seems to hold up, as vindicated by a survey the Aston researchers also carried out. Of those questioned, 87 per cent said they would eat food after it had been dropped on the floor. The majority who said they would are women, although most said they would follow the five-second rule.
(Source: Aston University website)