Vitality

Avoid Food Poisioning By Refusing to Eat These 6 Foods: How Not To Be 1 Of The 48 Million Sick Annually

food poisoning
Food poisoning can be a pain to deal with. Here are 7 of the best medicine and treatments for food poisoning. James Palinsad, cc by 2.0

Common food pathogens, particularly salmonella and some strains of bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), can cause severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Every year, 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Medical Daily has compiled this simple list of six foods to avoid, all of them chosen by a national expert in food safety, so you don't become a statistic.

A foodborne illness lawyer, William Marler has represented those who suffered from most of the largest food poisoning outbreaks in the United States over the past 20 years. In his efforts to advocate for greater food safety, he has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli and also helped spur the passage of the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.  

Having learned hard lessons from his work with victims of foodborne illnesses, Marler says he never eats the following items, some of which might surprise you.

Raw Shellfish, Including Clams And Oysters

Clams, oysters, mussels and scallops form the group of mollusks known as filter feeders. These shellfish feed themselves by filtering massive amounts of water through their systems so potentially harmful microorganisms easily enter and live within their bodies. If these mollusks live within polluted waters, pathogens causing disease likely live inside them.

Your risk of getting sick from eating raw shellfish is far greater than from eating it cooked — though there’s still a possibility of contamination. 

Raw or Rare Meat

Say "no" to steak tartare and don’t stop there: Never order a burger or steak “medium rare.” Meat must be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit throughout to kill foodborne bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. Marler always orders his hamburgers well-done because with ground meats, surface contaminants become spread throughout a patty. The same is true for steaks that have been “needle tenderized” — pierced with needles (or sliced with knives) to break down muscle fibers. For many methods of grinding and tenderizing, pathogens get pushed into the interior, so meat must be cooked well-done to pass muster with Marler.

Raw Or Undercooked Eggs

Marler knows the most recent salmonella outbreak from eggs caused about 2,000 reported cases of illness in 2010. Prior to that, separate salmonella epidemics occurring in the 1990s and 1980s were linked to eggs. Marler says the risk of contracting salmonella from eggs is “much lower” today, but still he prefers to be safe. He always eats his eggs well-cooked.

Unpasteurized Packaged Juices and Unpasteurized Raw Milk

Pasteurization, which uses heat to kill pathogens, is a 100-year old safety technique. Why would you want to drink liquid products that may easily be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites?  And yet people do: In 1996, unpasteurized apple juice led to one E. coli outbreak, while between 1998 and 2011, almost 150 food poisoning outbreaks linked back to raw milk and raw milk products. Marler says he never risks drinking what hasn’t been pasteurized.

Raw Sprouts

Sprouts come in many varieties: Mung bean, alfalfa, clover, and radish sprouts commonly make an appearance in grocery stores and restaurants. While these raw foods have mostly been tied to smaller outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella, there have been too many for Marler to ignore: 30 bacterial incidents since the mid-1990s. Because their seeds are prone to contamination, Marler eats only cooked sprouts, never raw or ‘lightly’ cooked.

Pre-Cut Fruits And Vegetables

Safety trumps convenience in Marler’s mind. The processing of pre-cut and pre-packaged produce is mostly unknown — did a deli employee cut up those slices of carrots beside a raw chicken? Is the pre-washed spinach really clean? According to Marler, the more a food is processed, the more it's tainted. In fact, a recent report suggests foodborne illnesses more commonly arrive on the backs of produce items than meats. He doesn’t take the risk and neither should you if you are serious about not wanting to become a food poisoning statistic.

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