Scientist wants to prove food picked up from the floor is safe because of the five-second rule 

So no need to feel guilty about that toast you just dropped…


The five-second rule has been used for years to justify eating treats we’ve accidentally dropped on the floor – from sweets and chocolate bars to that scrummy portion of roast chicken.

And for doubters of this sacred rule, one scientist is ready to prove them wrong.

Germ expert Professor Anthony Hilton, from Aston University, believes food that has been dropped on the floor is usually safe to eat under the so-called rule.

He said that although retrieving food can never be completely without risk, there is little to be concerned about if the food is only there momentarily.

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Hilton will be demonstrating how the five-second rule works at The Big Bang Fair – a celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people – which opens on Wednesday at the NEC in Birmingham.

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 that food is unlikely to have picked up harmful bacteria from a few seconds spent on an indoor floor.

“That is not to say that 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.”

It comes as a survey of 2,000 people found 79% admitted to eating food that had fallen on the floor.