Who among us hasn’t eaten something off the floor as long as it sat there for three seconds or less? Well, it turns out there may be some truth to the “three second rule,” but it has more to do with the type of food than how long it lingers on the ground.

Researchers at Britain’s Manchester Metropolitan University recently tested five food items — bread with jam, cooked pasta, ham, cookies and dried fruit — to see whether the old wives’ tale held up to scientific scrutiny.

Turns out, food with high salt and sugar content, such as the bread with jam, ham and cookies, showed low levels of contamination since bacteria can’t survive in a such an environment.

The cooked pasta and dried fruit, however, showed signs of klebsiella, a nasty form of bacteria that can lead to pneumonia, urinary tract infections, septicemia and soft tissue infections, among other things.

Researchers also said that water levels can affect the amount of bacteria on fallen food, which is why the cooked pasta showed both klebsiella and an elevated yeast count.

Regardless of their findings, researchers said, the three second rule can’t make up for a dirty floor. They suggested minimizing risk by cleaning floors once a day, and by replacing cleaning utensils (such as mop heads) every three months.

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[Good Morning America]

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