Foods Most Likely to Give You Food Poisoning
You would like to believe that the food you eat will not make you ill. However, it might surprise you to learn that there are about 48 million cases of food-related illness annually. That’s equivalent to one in six Americans getting sick because of something they ate.
Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning result in little more than an upset stomach, although that can be bad enough! Unfortunately, however, there are also 128,000 food poisoning hospitalizations every year and 3,000 deaths. So, food poisoning is an aspect of home safety that should not be ignored.
What Causes Food Poisoning?
We generally think of food poisoning as being caused by spoiled food. And the first food type to get blamed for any outbreak is usually seafood. However, the term food poisoning refers to any illness or disease caused by eating contaminated food. So, food poisoning can be caused by:
- Other contaminants
- Food allergies
What Are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?
The symptoms will vary depending on what nasty you ate and how much of it you consumed. The common symptoms of food poisoning are:
- Upset stomach
- Stomach cramps
Some contaminants can cause severe long-term effects, including kidney failure, chronic arthritis, brain and nerve damage, and death.
Who is at Greatest Risk from Food Poisoning?
Most healthy individuals can cope with minor cases of food contamination with no or negligible effects. However, some people are more susceptible to the effects of food poisoning than others. These people are more likely to get sick, and when they do get sick, the consequences can be much more severe. The groups of people most at risk from food poisoning include:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than five years old
- Adults aged 65 and older
- People with weakened immune systems
Foods Most Likely to Give You Food Poisoning:
The food we buy in stores is generally safe. And, adopting good hygiene practices at home, storing food correctly, and heeding use-by dates will help prevent food poisoning at home. However, even with modern food preparation and storage techniques, some foods are more prone to contamination than others. And, if you know which are the high-risk foods, you can take extra precautions. So, here is a top ten of foods most likely to cause food poisoning.
First in our list of foods most likely to give you food poisoning is poultry. And, while poultry is a firm favorite on the menu in most homes, things like turkey and chicken are often contaminated with bacteria like campylobacter and salmonella. Even tiny amounts of these bacteria can make you extremely sick. So, raw poultry needs to be cooked properly before serving. And it is best to keep raw poultry at the bottom of the refrigerator so that meat juices cannot drip onto other food. It is also advisable to clean and disinfect hands and countertops after preparing raw poultry to prevent cross-contamination.
Eggs are a typical food in most people’s homes. But this versatile ingredient is a common cause of food poisoning because it can contain salmonella and E. coli. And often, a contaminated egg will not look or smell any different from any other egg.
The best way to play it safe with eggs is to cook them. Unfortunately, many recipes call for raw or partially cooked eggs, including mayonnaise and salad dressings. And who isn’t partial to liking the cake mix off the spoon?
If you want to eat raw or partially cooked eggs, ensure that you buy only clean, uncracked eggs. And store eggs under 5°C, and avoid letting the contents of an egg touch the outside of the shell when you crack it open.
3. Raw Milk
Raw milk, which is unpasteurized milk, may contain bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, or listeria. So, it is best to always stick to the pasteurized milk that you will find in most stores. Pasteurized milk has been heat-treated to kill the harmful bacteria in milk. But drinking raw milk can cause a range of illnesses, some of which can be life-threatening.
4. Leafy Greens and Vegetables
We probably all got told to eat our greens when we were young. Indeed, greens and leafy vegetables are highly nutritious, full of fiber, and low in calories. Unfortunately, though, eating raw greens can also put you at risk of food poisoning.
Some bacteria that cause food poisoning, like E. coli, live in the soil. And, if greens are not washed properly, those harmful bacteria could be in your salad. There is also a risk that uncooked greens have been contaminated by dirty water, animals, or pesticides. So, make sure you wash your greens thoroughly before you eat them raw.
Cheese is considered a high-risk food, and pregnant women are advised to avoid eating soft cheeses altogether. And the risk during pregnancy is high. Eating contaminated cheese during pregnancy can cause severe illness and, in some cases, miscarriages.
The bacteria that cause the problem with cheese a particularly nasty one called staphylococcus aureus. And this type of bacteria is tolerant of salt and resistant to heat, so it’s tough to kill. Staphylococcus aureus can be transferred to cheese from an infected person, and then it will rapidly multiply in the cheese.
The best way to ensure that cheese does not become contaminated is to wash hands, utensils, and work surfaces thoroughly before and after preparing it. And store cheese at or under 5°C to prevent bacteria from multiplying. It is also advisable to only buy cheeses made from pasteurized milk.
Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, sunflower, and mung bean, are another top cause of food poisoning. The bacteria that can be found in sprouts include salmonella and E. coli.
Sprouts are grown in warm, wet environments, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So, the best advice is that pregnant women, young children, and the elderly steer clear of eating raw sprouts.
Washing sprouts thoroughly will reduce the risk of food poisoning. And, storing them at under 5°C will help to prevent the bacteria from multiplying. However, if you are in one of the above-mentioned vulnerable groups, it would be best to avoid eating sprouts or cook them before eating.
Fresh seafood is delicious, but seafood that has not been stored correctly can be lethal especially shellfish. If not stored correctly, either in the home or in the supply chain, seafood can cause a whole range of illnesses. So buying seafood only from reputable suppliers and storing it in the refrigerator is essential to avoid food poisoning.
Unfortunately, some of the seafood contaminants caused by improper storage are heat resistant. So, cooking spoiled fish will not reduce the risk. So, if you are ever unsure if seafood has spoiled, don’t take the risk; bin it!
8. Deli Meats & Cold Cuts
Processed deli meats and cold cuts can pose a food poisoning risk because they are often not cooked before eating. And therefore, any harmful bacteria, such as listeria, formed on the meat are not killed.
Sometimes, processed food like bacon and hotdogs can also be contaminated during the production process. So, foods of this type must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
It is recommended that people more susceptible to illness avoid eating cold deli meats and ensure that processed meat is cooked before it is consumed.
Rice is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world. However, rice is also one of the biggest causes of food poisoning.
Uncooked rice can become contaminated with bacillus cereus, which stays inactive on the rice until it is cooked. And, when the rice is cooked, the heat activates the bacteria, which then multiplies if the rice is not stored correctly. Furthermore, rice with other proteins mixed with it, such as egg or pork, poses an even more significant threat.
All cooked rice should be stored in the refrigerator at 5°C or less to prevent bacteria from multiplying. And reheating cooked rice is not recommended. So, warming up and eating the Chinese takeout leftovers the next day should definitely be avoided!
Last on our top ten foods most likely to give you food poisoning, surprisingly, is fruit. And, the reason for this is that bacteria can grow on the skin of a fruit. And fruit can also be contaminated by the people that handle it during packaging and by pesticides.
So, no matter how clean a piece of fruit looks when you buy it from a store, always wash it before eating it.
So, to sum up, always wash food thoroughly and ensure that you store it at the right temperature to avoid the risk of food poisoning. And, remember to be aware of the use-by date on food. Food poisoning can happen to the best of us, even those who keep a spotlessly clean kitchen.
We hope that our list of top 10 foods most likely to give you food poisoning has been helpful. Please feel free to share this article on social media if you think it will help others.
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