Stop press! 5-second rule not scientifically sound!

The five-second rule refers to the belief that you have five seconds to retrieve dropped food items before they get contaminated.

Not true, says Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System.

Items that come in contact with a surface immediately pick up any germs contaminating that surface.

There are degrees of contamination depending on the type of food, the length of time the food is on the surface, and how dirty a surface is, he explains.

A piece of cheese left on a dirty floor for a minute will be more contaminated than a piece of hard candy left on clean surface for a second or two. You can reduce but not eliminate bacteria if you wash off food such as hot dogs, but enough bacteria could remain to cause troubles in some people.

Dr. Parada suggests, “When in doubt, throw it out.”