Food poisoning has become quite common in the United States with 1 in 6 people getting affected by these illnesses in some form each year. While some cases of food poisoning may only involve minor stomach gurgles, others can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration.
Food items can become contaminated with food poisoning pathogens at any point of time of cycle from the farm to your fork. They can become infected during production, handling, manufacturing, or even while the food is being prepared to be served and eaten. As it is so easy for food to become contaminated, there are certain types of food that are more prone to contamination than others. Without further ado, here are the seven foods most likely to give you food poisoning:
Chicken and Poultry
Raw chicken often carries Campylobacter with it and sometimes, Salmonella and Clostridium Perfringens. Americans eat more chicken than any other meat. So, naturally there is a much higher chance of getting food poisoning from it. Bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, etc. live inside the intestines of poultry and can spread to other parts as well while cutting or during the egg laying process.
Here are some tips to prevent food poisoning from chicken and poultry:
- Do not wash raw chicken or raw meat. The juices from raw meat can contaminate kitchen surfaces, countertops, and sink.
- Keep raw poultry separate from fresh foods and cooked foods.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after handling raw meat.
- Use a separate cutting board for raw poultry.
- Wash the cutting board, knife, etc. with warm soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat.
- Cook the poultry to an internal temperature of 165℉.
- Refrigerate the cooked chicken within 2 hours of keeping it at room temperature.
All the berries including strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries have been linked to foodborne outbreaks and have sickened thousands in a single outbreak. Long gone are the days when people would to say that food that is harvested from Earth does not needs to be washed. A 1997 Hepatitis A outbreak sickened thousands of children due to contamination in frozen strawberries that was linked to a farm worker in Mexico. There are other outbreaks and cases of E. coliand Salmonella too that have been linked to berries. These bacteria can get into the fruits and vegetables during harvesting or handling.
To prevent foodborne illnesses from outbreaks, it is crucial that you wash the berries properly before eating them. Also, keep a lookout on recalls so as to avoid any product that has higher risk of causing foodborne illness.
Grilling was once just a thing for the summertime, but now more than half of Americans say that they are grilling and cooking food outside year-round. So, cases of food poisoning due to grilling have increased over the years. The first line of prevention against food poisoning is to clean the grill. Grills, when not properly cleaned, can harbor a lot of bacteria on them. Pre-heating the grill to a high temperature is also a good idea and practice to help rid your grill of unwanted, dangerous bacteria. Another good practice is to make sure that you have everything you need before you start grilling. Keep clean water by your side, separate plates for raw and cooked meat, hot pads, etc.
FoodSafety.gov also recommends to “Keep Hot Food Hot.” Keep raw meat and poultry at 140℉and warmer once it is already grilled. To help this process, you can keep cooked meat at the side of grill rack. You can refrigerate the leftovers and use them for later if they are refrigerated within 2 hours of being left at the room temperature.
Sprouts can cause food poisoning diseases, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and sometimes, Bacillus Cereus. Since 1990, United States has experienced almost 40 sprout outbreaks. The problem with sprouts occurs during the germination process. Each sprout is a seed that have germ inside of them. This germ and seed can get contaminated with the dormant bacteria which only grows during the germination process of the sprouts. This makes raw sprouts so prone to cause food poisoning.
Here are some tips to make sprouts safe:
- Buy fresh sprouts that have been properly refrigerated.
- Do not buy sprouts that have bad smell and slimy appearance.
- Rinse sprouts properly under running water before use.
- Cooking sprouts properly can kill the bacteria very easily.
Seafood is an important part of a nutritious diet, but mishandling it can lead to foodborne illnesses. The most common foodborne illness from seafood includes Norovirus and Vibrio. They are both quite dangerous pathogens to get infected with. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of food poisoning from seafood:
- Buy fish that looks fresh and does not have any spots or smells ‘fishy’. The skin of fish should rise back when pressed. Check for the temperature of the frozen seafood before buying.
- Store the seafood in the refrigerator if you plan on eating it within a day or two. Otherwise, keep it properly wrapped and in a refrigerator.
- Cook all the seafood to an internal temperature of 145℉. The flesh of fish, shrimp, lobster, and scallops should look pearly and opaque. Shells of clams and oyster should open after cooking. Throw out the ones that do no open.
- Refrigerate all the leftovers within 2 hours of keeping it out in the refrigerator.
Deli meats, also known as lunch meats, are referred to as precooked meats that are sliced and then, served hot and cold for sandwiches and light-dining options. And it might not come as a surprise to you that Deli meats are one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Pregnant women are especially at high risk for eating these types of foods. Deli meats can often be contaminated with E. coli, Listeria, etc., making them a concern.
Meat infected with these pathogens might not look or smell bad. High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) is the most effective way to keep Deli meats safe from dangerous foodborne pathogens. You should refrigerate the meat once you unseal it and then, consume it within 3-5 days. If you purchase fresh meat, then eat it within 3 days.
Leafy Greens just like berries can get contaminated with food poisoning causing pathogens during harvesting and handling. Well, who could have imagined (or prevented!) food poisoning from baby spinach that was grown in California which was contaminated with E. colifrom wild pigs and other livestock around the field. The greens can also get contaminated due to unsafe practices during handling and processing. So, it is crucial to devote more attention to staff hygiene if you are involved in food industry.
By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)