SCIENTISTS say there may be something in the old wives' tale that food dropped on the floor for five seconds is still safe to eat.

Researchers at Aston University's School of Life and Health Sciences found food picked up from the floor just a few seconds after being dropped was less likely to contain bacteria than if it was left for longer periods of time.

The findings suggest there may be some scientific basis to the so-called five-second rule that it is safe to eat food that has only been on the floor for five seconds or less.

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Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University, said: "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.

"However, the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the five-second rule for years."