The five-second rule has plagued parents for decades. When the toddler "accidentally" drops the last cookie and you're able to pick it up in under five seconds, do you give it a quick wipe and eat it because you still haven't had breakfast, lunch and dinner yet?
The general consensus in the scientific community is that it's better to put dropped food in the bin than in your mouth. Even the good ol' "Myth Busters" duo say the rule is a myth because food on the floor attracts bacteria instantly.
But, for Anthony Hilton, your risk of getting sick is really low if you can grab that precious food off the floor in five or so seconds. The professor of applied microbiology at Ashton University will present his research at The Big Bang Fair in Birmingham, England.
"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," Hilton tells The Independent.
So one might say, based on Hilton's research, the five-second rule is real.*
*Just maybe not if the food dropped on a smooth surface, like tile instead of carpet
** And not if you dropped something sticky and wet, like jam, ice cream or cooked pasta (surprisingly though, dry foods that sit on the floor for 30 seconds usually are fine)
*** And not if you dropped it somewhere clearly gross (say, the gas station or subway)
**** Really, though, people should be more worried about food poisoning through cross-contamination, like unwashed knives cutting raw meat then vegetables
***** Oh, and you probably shouldn't feed it to little ones with suppressed or developing immune systems
Also, don't be afraid to admit if you've done it before. According to Hilton's research, you're not alone. Apparently, 79 percent of people admitted to eating food that had fallen on the floor. More than half of us think it's acceptable to eat food off our own kitchen floors, but that number drops to 17 percent if you're talking about other people's floors. We don't know what this says about love, but people are just as likely to give food that's fallen on the floor to their dog as they are to their partner (18 and 17 percent, respectively). And unsurprisingly, 17 percent of parents would give food to their child to stop them from crying.
Now we've got that all cleared up, don't forget the golden rule: When in doubt, chuck it out.