According to a new study from Aston University in Birmingham, England five seconds really does make a difference in terms of food safety.
[M]icrobiology professor Anthony Hilton looked at the transfer of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (or the bacteria that causes Staph infection) from a variety of indoor floor types (carpet, laminate, and tiled surfaces) to a variety of foods (toast, pasta, cookies, ham, dried fruit, and last but not least a “sticky dessert”).
Each tested round of contact lasted between three and 30 seconds.
It’s not just the precious seconds your meal spends on the ground that matters, though; the type of flooring also plays a pretty big role. For instance, food dropped on carpet is the least likely to pick up bacteria, while food that sits on a hardwood floor for over five seconds is almost guaranteed to pick up something unpleasant
I find this particularly fascinating. Not because of the science – hey, I never doubted the folk wisdom of it. No, I found it fascinating because I always thought it was the three second rule. And I was pretty sure it had to do with zombies. Ergo the t-shirt I had made.