That’s because the higher the salt or sugar content the less chance any harmful bacteria will survive, as a study carried out by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) on behalf of cleaning experts Vileda shows.
MMU tested five food items – cooked pasta, ham, a plain biscuit, dried fruit and bread and jam – to find out whether the three second rule could be trusted.
They discovered you were better off with processed foods as they have less chance of picking up any nasty bacteria.
The ham and bread and jam fared well after testing at three, five and 10 second intervals, while the dried fruit and cooked pasta showed signs of klebsiella – a bacteria which can potentially lead to a wide range of diseases such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, septicaemia and soft tissue conditions.
No specific organisms were detected on the biscuit, due to its low water level.
The university food sciences team also tested a used child’s dummy and discovered E. coli was present before hitting the floor.
Technical officer Kathy Lees said: “We also discovered Pseudomonas – bacteria which could potentially lead to respiratory, tissue and urinary tract infections, for those whose health is already compromised.”
Lindsey Taylor, of Vileda, added: “Pseudomonas can often be present on mops and each time a floor is cleaned the bacteria is being spread increasing the chance of contamination.”
“Five mums took part in the study and admitted dropping dummies and fruit almost daily and letting their children have them.
“Keep your floor clean by regularly mopping. The new Vileda 1, 2 Spray can be filled with our ready-made cleaning liquid and is a quick and efficient way of keeping floors shiny and bacteria free.
“Mop heads need to be replaced regularly – every three months ideally – yet often people leave this until closer to a year. Ideally, floors should be mopped once a day yet a third of Brits only mop once a week*.
All case studies said they only embraced the three second rule when at home, with all admitting they would discard anything dropped on the floor when out in public.
It is never recommended that food should be consumed from a floor which has not been recently cleaned with a fresh mop head.