Approximately 9 million people every year suffer from a food borne illness, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come out with a list of the 11 foods that are most likely to make you sick. It’s not that these foods aren’t healthy to eat; under most circumstances, they are nutritious and healthy foods. According to the CDC, these are the foods that show up most often in food poisoning cases, and some suggestions as to how you can to handle these foods safely.
- Beans and Grains – Because beans and seeds tend to thrive in the same warm, humid environments as potentially unhealthy bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, you should always cook beans and grains thoroughly, and avoid eating them raw. Raw bean sprouts pose a particular risk.
- Shellfish – It is actually quite common for people to eat some shellfish raw, but it should be avoided. When you buy shellfish, like clams, mussels or oysters, make sure they were taken from safe waters, and always cook them before eating.
- Eggs – At least 140,000 become sick from salmonella contamination from eggs every year, which is why very important to keep eggs refrigerated from the time you bring them home. You should also consider washing the eggs before you crack them open, and when it’s time to cook them, do so until the yolks are no longer runny.
- Fish – Often, fish are laden with bacteria, so how you handle it is very important. If you guy fish fresh from the market, it’s important to cook it quickly and to do so thoroughly. If you buy it frozen, defrost it in the microwave, or in a refrigerator in a resealable container or bag. But never thaw it on the kitchen counter, because room temperatures can result in bacteria growth.
- Pork – Since Biblical times, improperly handled or cooked pork has been known to cause sickness. Health authorities continue to look for ways to handle pork safely. The latest rules; always cook pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, except for ground pork, which should be 160 degrees. But it’s also important to allow the meat to rest for three minutes before cutting it.
- Tomatoes and Cucumbers – Salmonella bacteria can be present on these vegetables, because of where they were grown, or because farmers didn’t wash their hands properly while handling them. Regardless of where you buy these vegetables, make sure you wash them thoroughly with cold running water in a clean sink with clean hands and a clean paper towel.
- Fruits and Nuts – It is far too common for fruits and nuts to be recalled because of contamination with salmonella and listeria – peanuts and cantaloupe are two of the most common recent examples we’ve seen. So keep up with food safety recalls by checking foodsafety.gov/ regularly. Wash fruits thoroughly before cutting them, because if there is contamination on the outside, the knife will transfer it to the inside.
- Dairy – Raw, unpasteurized milk carries with it significant risk of serious infectious diseases, so avoid it at all costs, especially when the consumer is a child, a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or someone with a weakened immune system.
- Beef – Beef, especially ground beef, can often be contaminated with E. coli. Therefore, when cooking ground beef, use a meat thermometer and cook it until it’s 160 degrees. For whole cuts of beef, 145 degrees is safe. Don’t try to determine whether the meat is fully cooked by color, since it’s possible for the meat to turn brown before it’s fully cooked. Immediately after eating, leftovers should be transferred to the refrigerator, and kept at 40 degrees or less, to prevent other bacteria from growing.
- Leafy Greens – As we’ve seen often in the last few years, leafy greens are quite often found to be contaminated with bacteria, especially E. coli. When buying leafy greens always wash and dry your produce with a clean paper towel, except when it’s labeled “prewashed,” “triple-washed,” or “ready-to-eat,” because you risk contaminating those greens with germs in your kitchen. At the local salad bar, see to it that greens are replaced often.
- Poultry – Chicken and turkey are the most common sources of foodborne bacteria, especially salmonella. The key is to avoid cross-contamination. Never open the package until you’re ready to cook. Always use a separate cutting board when cutting poultry; never use that same cutting board for cutting other raw meat or produce. Never put cooked poultry on the same dish or pan that you used to carry the raw meat.
If you have purchased food that is subject to recall, please follow the instructions of the recall. If you have any symptoms of any sort of food borne illness, you should get medical help immediately.
The San Antonio Food Poisoning Lawyer at Hill Law Firm know how to get the largest companies in the country to pay attention when we represent our clients in cases of food borne illness. If you or a loved one has been sickened by food contamination or poisoning, please call our legal team immediately.