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10th Jun 2022

Here’s how long Brits are happy to leave food on the floor – and still eat it

Simon Bland

You know who you are

We’ve all heard of the five-second rule and most of us have used it at least once (don’t lie), however, a recent survey of Brits has revealed the extent to which people are willing to try and rescue their fallen food instead of doing the right thing and binning it.

SPOILERS: Some of you are gross…

We’ve no doubt found ourselves shouting ‘five-second rule!’ whenever we accidentally drop a tasty piece of food on the floor before we’ve had time to scoff it. The general thinking behind the idea is that the less time food spends on the dirty ground, the fewer germs will be able to crawl all over it.

While science has suggested that such thinking is nonsense, the folks at TileWarehouse have claimed that research points to a different outcome: that food will pick up less bacteria if it’s only on the floor for a short amount of time.

Now, thanks to the same tile specialists, we know the average time a piece of food needs to be on the floor before people consider it ready for the bin.

After conducting a recent survey, TileWarehouse discovered that the mean average time that people will leave their food on the floor before proceeding to still eat it is 4.96 seconds – proving that the five-second rule is pretty much accurate.

Science behind the 5-second rule

According to the same study, in which Cenuswide asked 2000 people aged 18 and over throughout May 2022, 41.32 per cent of people don’t care how long their food has been on the floor for — if it’s touched the ground, it’s good to go.

Meanwhile, 5.27 per cent of people (that’s around one in 20) couldn’t care less; stating that time plays no factor when their grub hits the ground – they’d still eat it regardless.

Approximately six in 10 – or around 59 per cent – admitted that they would still eat food if it had touched the floor. However, interestingly, the results differed when it came to letting their children do the same.

In this instance, only 40 per cent of those surveyed would let their kids enjoy a floor buffet, while the same study discovered that men (61 per cent), were more likely to partake in the five-second rule than women (56 per cent).

Splitting their research down into age groups and location, the study discovered that Millennials and Gen Y – those aged 24-42 – were most likely to leave their food on the floor for the longest time, while geographically, Scotland was the region with the highest average food-on-the-floor time, clocking in at 10.18 seconds.

For balance, Northern Ireland had the lowest floor tolerance rate, with just 3.28 seconds.

I think we all learned something about each other today: everyone has very different standards of hygiene.

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