There are few things more frustrating than watching a tasty morsel slip through your fingers.
So most of us would admit to living by the "five second rule" - judging that it is safe to pick up and eat food that has only touched the floor momentarily.
But researchers have claimed the age-old convention is a myth - and warned that more than a third of us are putting ourselves at risk of contracting a "silent killer" by eating food we have dropped.
They said that harmful household bugs such as E. coli and salmonella stick to food in an instant, meaning dropped food should be binned regardless of how long it touched the floor for.
Hygienist Dr Lisa Ackerley, of Salford University, added that the deadliest bacteria are those we cannot see or smell, but which can multiply from a single bacterium to several million in just seven hours.
A survey found that 37 per cent of us would eat food dropped on the kitchen floor, rising to 38 per cent for the living room floor. This is despite 49 per cent admitting they only use a broom when cleaning, with 43 per cent just using air freshener - despite neither method killing bacteria.
Of the 2,000 people polled for the study - commissioned by a cleaning technology firm - 59 per cent said they only cleaned when there were visible signs of dirt.