You lean over to grab a cookie, but miss. It tumbles and lands on the floor, just before you have a chance to scoop it up.\nFive-second rule \u2014 you can still eat it if it\u2019s only on the ground for a second or two. Right?\nYou may follow the 5-second rule without considering the potential health hazards. How accurate is this rule \u2014 and can you really eat that cookie once it\u2019s been on the ground?\nRELATED:\u00a0Myths and Facts About Healthy Eating\nWhat Is the \u201c5-Second Rule?\u201d\nAccording to the unofficial \u201c5-second rule,\u201d when an item of food falls to the ground, for about the first 5 seconds, it\u2019s safe to pick up and eat. After five seconds, the food is dirty, and you should throw it away.\nBacteria and other organisms that live on the floors of kitchens and dining rooms are not visible to the naked eye, so it is easy to believe your dropped cookie is still clean and safe to eat.\nFor more information, or to find a primary care doctors, visit www.UPMC.com\/PCP or call 1-855-676-UPMCPCP.\nThe 5-second rule implies that it takes time for those germs to move from the floor to the cookie, giving you a short window to retrieve your food.\nSo, Is the 5-Second Rule Real?\nThe answer is \u2014 sort of.\nSeveral studies have been conducted to determine whether the 5-second rule is true. The consensus: Food left on the ground for longer periods of time does collect more bacteria. The longer your food is on the floor, the dirtier it becomes.\nHowever, as soon as food touches the ground, it is likely instantly contaminated with the bacteria it contacts. So, once your food touches the ground, it is, in fact, tainted by bacteria.\nCan You Eat Food That\u2019s Been on the Ground?\nThe instant food falls on the ground it immediately becomes contaminated with bacteria.\nThe number of germs and bacteria that attach to the food does depend on both the type of food and surface you drop it on. For example, if you drop food that is moist or sticky on any surface, it may gather more than dry food. Hardwood floors are also more likely to transfer bacteria to any type of food.\nCarpet and other similar surfaces absorb more bacteria so less attaches to the piece of food, but this still does not make it safe to eat.\nSo the next time you drop a piece of food on the ground, no matter how delicious, instead of counting to five, take the safe route and throw it away.