The Dark Truth Behind The Five Second Rule

Warner Bros.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve made or bought some food, only to drop it on the floor I’d be a poor man, because nickels are not currency in the UK – change it to pounds however and I’d have my own yacht in St Tropez.

Personally speaking, I don’t eat anything which has even stroked the floor – such is the level of my germaphobia, after washing my hands in a pub toilet, I’ll then pull my coat sleeve over my hand to open the door on the way out.

So if you think I’m the kind of guy to scran a face-planted piece of toast, you’ve got another thing coming.

Yet some pro’s out there have an envious disregard for what they put in their gob – apart from maybe bleach and excrement, they’ll happily dust off a felled McVitie’s digestive biscuit in the pursuit of a good time.


However, isn’t it really unhealthy some of you may be thinking?

Apparently not!

Germ expert, Professor Anthony Hilton from Aston University explained how, while retrieving food off the floor can never be completely without risk, if it’s there for just five seconds, there’s not a lot which should keep you awake at night.


According to The Independent, he said:

Eating food that has spent a few moments on the floor can never be entirely risk-free.

Obviously, food covered in visible dirt shouldn’t be eaten, but as long as it’s not obviously contaminated, the science shows food is unlikely to have picked up harmful bacteria from a few seconds spent on an indoor floor.

That is not to say germs can’t transfer from the floor to the food.

Our research has shown that the nature of the floor surface, the type of food dropped on the floor and the length of time it spends on the floor can all have an impact on the number that can transfer.


Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK, organisers of The Big Bang Fair, said:

This is a simple example of how science is present in everyday life.

From testing how safe food is to inventing new food and drink, the limits of how we can apply science and engineering are endless.

There are other benefits to eating food five seconds after it drops on the floor, which are said to include:

1. Saving money

I’d dump the fallen food and start afresh, wasting anything from a few pennies to a few pounds.

Five-second fiends don’t have this problem and are therefore probably able to afford a house?


2. Forcing you to clean

If you drop beans, for example, or something including gravy, the fallout will most likely have spread wide enough for you to go, ‘Well, I guess I’ll have to get the mop and bucket out and go gang-ho on this entire room!’

If you don’t have butter fingers in the kitchen, then I reckon there’s a 99.9% chance it’s absolutely filthy.


3. Opportunities to swear

Carrying a plate of grub successfully to a table or chair robs you of the pleasure of exclaiming ‘B*stard!’ or ‘Holy f*ck,!’ or ‘One moment it’s in my hand, the next it’s on the f*cking floor!’