Feast on This: The Five-Second Rule Is (Mostly) Legit!

03/14/2014 at 04:08 PM ET

Five-Second Rule

Oh no! You dropped some of your lunch on the ground. Okay, no one’s looking. It’s cool to just reach down and scoop it up and keep eating, right?

According to a new British study, you should be fine. Researchers from Aston University in Birmingham, England, tested the popular “rule” — that it’s okay to eat dropped food as long as you pick it up within five seconds — and found that it wasn’t just an urban myth or old wives’ tale. Depending on what you drop and where, popping “floor food” in your mouth won’t necessarily do you harm.

The researchers tested toast, pasta, cookies and sticky candy by letting it rest on the floor from three to 30 seconds to see how much bacteria (E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus) the items attracted.

Their somewhat surprising results: Food dropped on carpet — yes, carpet — is the least likely to pick up bacteria within five seconds, but food that falls onto a hardwood or laminate floor may pick up something nasty.

Still, no one’s advocating using your shag rug as a dining-room table.

“Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time,” says microbiology professor Anthony Hilton, who led the study.

Or, as another popular rule advocates: When in doubt, throw it out!

—Nancy Mattia

FILED UNDER: Food , Food News , Health

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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