Discovery Science Channel’s “The Quick and the Curious” program shows that the five-second rule is legit. Picking up and eating dropped food may make you squirm, but science says it is totally fine as long as it fell onto a dry surface.

“The theory is that if food dropped on the floor is picked up quickly enough, it’s safe to eat. While some people are firm believers, others use the rule to convince themselves that it’s OK to eat a fallen morsel,” National Health Service UK states.  “Some call it the “five-second rule”, others know it as the “three-second rule.”

The five-second rule is actually the 30-second moisture and surface rule. The problems only start when the food and the surface are wet.

Flickr.com/SarahFlickr.com/Sarah

Flickr.com/Sarah

E-coli, salmonella and listeria thrive in wet environments. These need to absorb water for nourishment that will encourage these bacteria to grow and multiply.

According to scientists, moist foods that have been left longer than 30 seconds collect 10 times the amount of bacteria than foods that have only been lying around for up to three seconds.

According to the video posted in Science Channel’s website, bacteria move along 0.00045 miles (0.00072 kilometres) per hour, 67 times slower than a garden snail. Although small amounts of bacteria jump onto a food that has been dropped, chances are, you will be alright.

NASA engineer Mike Meacham conducted an experiment in a park where he offered people cookies. However, he dropped the food before those strangers even have the chance to touch the cookies. Unsurprisingly, most individuals refused to accept the gift, but one man finally had the guts to eat the dropped cookie, which irritated the woman he was with.

Additionally, the experts said that the type of surface where the food has been dropped also dictates how safe it is to eat that food again. It is safer to pick foods from carpets or rugs than linoleum because these have less surface area, which hinders transmission of the germs.