Newswise — The hot dog that rolls off the plate, the baby’s cookie that falls on the floor, the candy bar that slides across the table – conventional wisdom has that you have five seconds to pick it up before it is contaminated. Fact or or folklore? “A dropped item is immediately contaminated and can’t really be sanitized,” says Jorge Parada, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System. “When it comes to folklore, the ‘five-second rule’ should be replaced with ‘when in doubt, throw it out." All items that come into contact with a surface pick up bacteria (and dirt!). How much bacteria and what kind of microbes depends on the object dropped and the surface it is dropped upon, he says.