Is it Safe to Eat Food You Just Dropped? UK Studies Have Answers

April 26, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. verify /ˈvɛrəˌfaɪ/ (v.) – to check or prove if something is true
Example: The scientists verified the results by conducting another experiment.

2. legitimacy /lɪˈdʒɪtə (n.) – something that can be defended with proof or evidence
Example: Experts question the legitimacy of his study.

3. concur /kənˈkɜr/ (v.) – to have the same opinion or have an agreement with another
Example: Several professors concurred with the scientist’s claims.

4. scant /skænt/ (adj.) – having an amount that is not enough
Example: Scientists failed to prove their hypothesis because of scant evidence.

5. ail /eɪl/ (v.) – to cause sickness or suffering
Example: The kid is ailing after having diarrhea.


Read the text below.
A recent study from Aston University in England verified that it is still safe to eat food five seconds after it fell on the floor.

Popularly known as the “five-second rule,” this common belief has long been a subject of argument among scientists. Researchers from Aston decided to end this debate with a conclusion that this particular belief is true.

In 2007, Clemson University from the United States also tested the legitimacy of the “five-second rule”. Aston and Clemson used similar methods for the study, found the same results, but had opposite conclusions. Researchers from Clemson University argue that eating dropped food can never be safe.

Both studies analyzed how fast bacteria contaminate food on the floor. Three different types of floor surfaces were used to assess bacteria’s reaction – tile, wood, and carpet. Aston researchers used E. coli [EE KOH-lahy] and Staphylococcus aureus [staf-uh-l uh-KOK-uh s AWR-ee-uh s] while Clemson used Salmonella [sal-muh-NEL-uh]. Aston tested various foods with dry and moist qualities while Clemson just used bologna [buh-LOH-nee] and bread.

Results showed that the bacteria’s transfer rate was fast for both experiments. Both studies concurred that food on carpeted floor had lower bacteria transfer rate than tiled and wooden floor. However, Aston University particularly discovered that dry food gets fewer bacteria than the moist ones.

According to Anthony Hilton, leader of the Aston study, the low transfer efficacy of bacteria to food supports the conventional five-second rule. The amount of bacteria transferred within five seconds is too scant to cause any harm.

However, Paul Dawson [DAW-suh n], head of Clemson study, disagreed with Hilton’s belief. Dawson said the presence of bad bacteria in food is enough to ail someone.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Can you think of other medical myths like the one presented in the article?
·         Why do you think some people believe in medical myths?

Discussion B

·         How can people avoid food contamination?
·         How do you keep food at home clean?


April 26, 2014