According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every single year, food poisoning affects around 76 million people all over the world. – about 5,000 of these people die. This means that your odds of succumbing to food poisoning are pretty slim, but you’re still going to have a pretty rough time.
There are many different causes of food poisoning, such as bacteria, toxins, and chemicals. However, some foods have a higher possibility of making you sick than others. This is because these particular foods are more at risk of bacterial growth than others. Therefore, if they aren’t cooked to a certain temperature or aren’t handled or stored properly, there’s a good chance that they will make you sick.
A foodborne illness can take days or weeks to develop, so it can be tricky to find the cause of the sickness. What can help though, is knowing which foods you should be extra careful with when handling, storing, and cooking. So, read on to learn which foods are more likely to give you food poisoning, along with some tips on how best to limit your risk.
Since leafy greens and vegetables are often eaten raw, any harmful contaminants on them won’t be killed in the cooking process. Bacteria such as E. coli can live in the soil that leafy greens grow in, and can easily contaminate them. Furthermore, wild animals can also transfer harmful substances to the food at any time during their growth.
Washing leafy greens and vegetables not only reduces the risk of harmful bacteria being present, but also any chemical pesticides that might be on the food. Therefore, you should always make sure to wash leafy greens and vegetables before consuming them.
Outside of a farm, you won’t encounter raw milk too often, but we strongly recommend you not to drink any if you’re offered. Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized, meaning it hasn’t been heated to kill any harmful bacteria. The risk with drinking raw milk is that there’s a higher chance of the milk containing E. coli, listeria, or salmonella. If consumed, these dangerous bacteria can cause a range of food poisoning illness that can be life threatening.
Eggs are a convenient, versatile, and nutritious protein and are eaten by countless people all around the world. However, when it comes to food poisoning, they’re considered high-risk, especially when raw or undercooked.
Bacteria can contaminate either the yolk, the white, or the egg shell. Often a contaminated egg will not look, taste, or smell any different, making it almost impossible to detect. Many popular meals contain lightly cooked (or even raw) eggs, so have a high risk of causing foodborne illness. It’s recommended that you thoroughly cook all foods that contain eggs, and avoid foods that contain undercooked eggs, such as salad dressings and mayonnaise.
To enjoy eggs safely, it’s recommended that you buy clean, uncracked eggs. You should keep them refrigerated at under 5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, when cracking the egg, make sure that the egg yolk or white doesn’t touch the outside of the shell before going in the dish.
These recommendations are very important for vulnerable people such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone suffering from an illness that weakens the immune system.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that can be found on cheese. It is often transferred to the cheese when an infected person handles it. The bacteria have a high tolerance for salt, so cheese is an ideal breeding ground for it. Furthermore, Staphylococcus aureus is heat resistant, so cooking does not kill it.
The best way to stop cheese from being contaminated with this dangerous bacteria is it store it at under 5 degrees Celsius, wash your hands before handling cheese, and make sure that all surfaces, utensils, and equipment that the cheese touches have been thoroughly sanitized.
Sprouts grow in warm and wet environments which are perfect for rapid bacteria growth. This means that they are extremely difficult to keep clean. Since sprouts are usually eaten raw, they carry a really high risk of causing foodborne illness, especially from salmonella and E. coli.
If contaminated, it’s very likely that the seeds of the sprouts are where the harmful bacteria will be found. Although there are different ways to reduce the risk of contamination, no treatment is guaranteed to kill all of the bacteria.
Therefore, people who are vulnerable to effects of the potential bacteria – the elderly, pregnant women, children, and people with weakened immune systems – are instructed to stay away from sprouts. If you decide to eat them, it’s best to cook them first to reduce your risk of contamination.
Raw and undercooked poultry have an extremely high risk of causing food poisoning if it’s not handled properly. Campylobacter bacteria and salmonella are two common contaminants of poultry, and even small amounts can make people seriously ill. These bacteria often contaminate raw meat when it’s first processed, and can survive up until they are killed by high temperatures.
Although these bacteria live on raw poultry, there are some ways to lower your risk of contracting them. You should always make sure that poultry is cooked all the way through before you eat it, as this will kill harmful bacteria. Furthermore. You should not wash raw chicken before cooking it as this will just spread the bacteria around your kitchen, make it easier to contaminate something else. When handling raw poultry, it’s very important to wash and sanitize anything that the raw meat touches – including clothes, chopping boards, utensils, and especially your hands.
Deli meats and cold-cut meats are often highly processed and include hot dogs, ham, bacon, and salami. The storage of deli meats is very important as they’re often not cooked before being consumed.
Listeria and other dangerous bacteria can find its way into the processing factory and contaminate meats after they have been cooked and before they have been packaged. This is why it is really important to heat bacon and hot dogs to at least 75 degrees Celsius for at least 3 minutes before consuming. Furthermore, cold meats should always be stored below 5 degrees Celsius to reduce the risk of further bacterial growth.
All meats carry a high-risk of causing food-related illnesses if they are not prepared and stored properly. Many people prefer their red meat not to be cooked thoroughly through, but this can mean that the number of bacteria is not brought down to a safe level. Those who are susceptible to illness are advised to ensure that all their meats are thoroughly cooked – this includes young children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
Rice, one of the most widely consumed foods on the planet, is a high-risk food when it comes to food poisoning. It can often be contaminated with bacillus cereus, which can infect and live in uncooked rice as spores. Rather than getting rid of the spores, cooking actually activates them, and moist cooked rice is the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Not storing cooked rice properly is one of the biggest culprits of foodborne illnesses in the world.
When it comes down to food poisoning from seafood there are many different illnesses. It all depends on the type of seafood, whether it has been contaminated with a toxin, bacteria, or other harmful substances, and the conditions that the fish has been kept in.
Fish which has not been stored at the correct temperature has a very high-risk of being contaminated with histamine – a toxin that can cause Scombroid poisoning and cannot be destroyed by normal cooking temperatures.
Shellfish can also cause food poisoning as the algae that the shellfish live on, produce toxins that can build up to dangerous levels. The more common foodborne illnesses that these toxins can cause include neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, paralytic shellfish poisoning, and amnestic shellfish poisoning. Cooking the shellfish will not reduce the toxicity to safe levels, so it is advised to avoid eating seafood in developing countries.
Surprisingly, lots of raw fruits and berries have a high-risk of causing food poisoning. Listeria can grow on the skin of fruits and vegetables and can cause food poisoning if eaten.
Melons also have a high-risk of causing food poisoning as they’re often not washed before being eaten. Harmful bacteria can easily be spread between fruit during the supply chain process. The environments that these foods grow is a major factor for their high-risk status. They’re often grown in warm, humid conditions, which are perfect for bacteria to breed. Thoroughly washing your fruit and vegetables and storing them at a proper temperature before consumption will decrease your risk.