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University of Wisconsin Tackles the Big Issues

The research arm of the UW-Madison finally answers the age-old question: Is there actually a "five second rule" when you drop food on the floor?

If a piece of toast fell on the floor, would you pick it up and eat it? You probably would if you believe in the 5-second rule, which suggests that your spilled breakfast stays germ-free as long as you snatch it up in five seconds.

But while the 5-second rule remains a popular rule of thumb, there is no hard science to support it, says Glenn Chambliss, a bacteriologist at UW-Madison. In fact, if you dropped food in places harboring nasties like E. Coli bacteria, any contamination would happen instantaneously, the scientist says.

Next up for the UW: Debunking the myth of "he who smelt it dealt it."