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Photo: Jess Kapadia

You drop your hot, greasy slice on the floor during lunchtime and have just a few seconds to make a big decision. It’s one of the most debated food practices of our time and is timeless in nature: you’re just as likely to hear an argument regarding its implementation in a grade school classroom as you are in a home or an office. Yes, it’s the infamous five-second rule, and a new study is here to suggest that there may actually be some scientific evidence behind it.

Up until this point, the notion that food remains germ-free until the magical limit of five seconds has been somewhat of a pop-culture theory. While previous experiments – including one on the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters – had determined that there is minimal correlation between the amount of time a food item is on the floor and the amount of bacteria it accumulates, a new study from Aston University in Birmingham, England reveals that time is a vital component in transfers of bacteria.

The research team used several dry and sticky food items and a variety of indoor floor surfaces in their study. In addition to their findings about time of exposure, they also concluded that bacteria is more likely to transfer on laminate and tiled surfaces, compared to carpeting.

So, perhaps there is newfound hope for you and your fallen greasy slice. As long as you act quickly, that is. Were you already picking up that slice and eating it anyway? You’re not alone. 87% of people surveyed for the study reported that they would as well.

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