What foods are the most likely to give you food poisoning?

There are 4.1 million cases of food poisoning every year.  What foods are the most likely to give you food poisoning?

1.      Poultry:

Poultry is very high-risk for food poisoning especially when undercooked.  Campylobacter and salmonella are the two most common sources of contamination.  Washing chicken before cooking can actually increase the risk of infection, because it spreads it to other surfaces in the kitchen!

2.      Eggs:

Eggs are high risk because of salmonella.  When an egg is affected, it won’t look, smell, or taste any different. Eggs cause 80,000 cases of food poisoning and 30 deaths a year!

3.      Leafy greens and vegetables:

Escherichia coli (E. coli) can live in the soil where greens are grown and infect them.  Washing your lettuce and vegetables reduces the risk. There has been an outbreak just this month of E. coli related to romaine lettuce.

4.      Raw milk:

Unpasteurized milk can carry E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. One of the biggest outbreaks of Campylobacter was spread by a farm selling unpasteurized milk in Great Britain, causing 56 people to become ill with abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

5.      Cheese:

Cheese can carry staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria.  Cooking does not kill staph as it is heat-resistant.  Unpasteurized cheese such as queso fresco can carry listeria, which is especially dangerous for pregnant woman.

6.      Sprouts:

Sprouts are often eaten raw, and can carry salmonella and E. coli. A food poisoning outbreak in Germany in 2011 caused 4000 to become ill and caused 50 deaths!

7.      Seafood:

Seafood can be contaminated with toxins, bacteria, and parasites.  One example is Ciguatera poisoning, a toxin that is not destroyed by cooking seafood.  Shellfish can be contaminated  by algae, building up toxins to dangerous levels. Again, cooking will not eliminate this risk. There have been 270 known food poisoning outbreaks caused by seafood since 1990.

8.      Rice:

Rice can carry bacillus cereus, which infects and lives in uncooked rice.  Cooking actually activates the spores and increases the risk of infection. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea that can last for up to 24 hours.

9.      Deli meats:

Ham, hot dogs, salami, and other deli meats can be affected by listeria and other bacteria.  It’s important to cook hot dogs and back for at least 3 minutes before eating. One study on a major brand of hot dogs found that 20% carried Listeria bacteria!

10.    Fruit:

Listeria can grow on the skins of grit and vegetables, and salmonella outbreaks have been traced to berries, peppers, and tomatoes.  A recent salmonella break was traced back to pre-cut fruit sold in grocery stores.


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