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Is the Five-Second Rule Fact or Myth?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Myth-Busters are back at it Friday night, shattering one more widely held belief. Did you ever hear about the so-called "five-second rule?"

It turns out the rule that says that food that is dropped on the floor is safe to eat if picked up within five seconds is a myth. Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the Loyola University Health System in Illinois, says that food dropped on the floor is contaminated immediately and cannot be sanitized.

Dr. Parada adds, though, that the amount and type of bacteria picked up depends on the object that is dropped and on what type of surface it falls. Some objects attract microbes more easily than others, he says, according to Health24. For example, Parada notes, a potato chip that falls on a table top that is fairly clean for a short second is less likely to spread bacteria than one that falls on the floor and is left there for a while.  Loyola adds that hard candy, too, is less likely to become contaminated than a slice of cheese.

Still, it is better to err on the side of caution and refrain from eating food under the five-second rule. Instead, Parada suggests a new rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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