Just because Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream contains chunks of that pre-baked goodness, it doesn’t mean you should readily eat raw cookie dough — the cookie dough Ben & Jerry’s uses is actually a specially treated version. Nevertheless, countless people around the country consume cookie dough right out of the package, despite warnings on the package advising against it. One woman who decided to ignore this warning ended up dying in the summer of 2013, after eating only a few bites of Nestlé’s Tollhouse Cookie Dough, and fighting an E. coli infection.

Cookie dough is one of those foods that, if you’re going to eat it, you should know you’re putting yourself at risk. You should also keep this in mind when considering whether you should eat the following raw foods. Actually, it’s best you just stay away, far away — unless you’re putting this food on the stove.


There’s a reason this is the first one. Americans eat more chicken than beef or pork each year. In 2013, each person ate about 83 pounds of chicken, compared to 56 pounds of beef and 47 pounds of pork, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It should be obvious that chicken shouldn’t be eaten unless it’s cooked — this point seems to be emphasized during summer barbecues, when the question of whether the chicken is cooked through arises more often than when beef is on the grill.

Sometimes, due to the way it’s handled in processing plants, raw chicken contains Salmonella, a group of bacteria that’s the most common cause of food poisoning. Within four to seven days after consumption, it infects the intestinal tract, causing fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. This, however, is a best case scenario.

Just last year, chicken from two Foster Farms processing plants caused a multistate outbreak of infection from Salmonella Heidelberg, an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria. In all, 621 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico were infected. Although there were no deaths, 38 percent of those who were ill ended up being hospitalized, with many suffering from septicemia, a blood infection that can cause death.

You can avoid eating raw chicken by making sure that you cook your chicken to a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees — this kills Salmonella. Also, don’t wash your chicken, and we aware of how you’re using your kitchen towels (a study showed they can be full of Salmonella).

Red Kidney Beans

Kidney beans! Whether they’re in chili, curry, rice, or made as a dip, they’re equally delicious. Red kidney beans are also super nutritious, containing potassium, magnesium, fiber, iron, and protein. With all these nutrients, they’re able to reduce bad cholesterol, keep heart disease at bay, and keep you full for longer.

“So named for their resemblance to the shape of our organs, the red color of this type of bean is indicative of their high concentration of disease-fighting antioxidants,” Janet Bond Brill, nutrition and fitness expert, told Time.

But believe it or not, the kidney beans you’re getting out of the can aren’t raw. They’ve been boiled, thankfully, because if they weren’t, a lot more people around the country would be getting sick. Red kidney beans have high concentrations of phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin, which is a natural toxin. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the chemical can cause “extreme nausea,” followed by potentially severe vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Although this whole ordeal can be over in about seven hours, the FDA describes it as “extremely debilitating.”

Although phytohaemagglutinin is most concentrated in red kidney beans, it can also be found in fava beans, pinto beans, and string beans. Get the canned versions to avoid any bodily harm.


The bigger the fish, the more mercury they’re likely to have within. That’s because the mercury “bioaccumulates” in larger fish, as they eat smaller fish, which have eaten smaller fish, and so on. Considering that tuna can reach 15 feet in length, and weigh more than 1,500 pounds, that’s a lot of mercury. Yet, Americans eat lots of tuna. It’s popular in sushi, as a steak, and especially throughout children’s lunchboxes, where it provides essential omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart health.

Regardless of whether the tuna is canned (where it’s been steamed momentarily) or raw, it all contains mercury, and eating too much of it, over time, can cause mercury poisoning — à la Jeremy Piven post-Entourage. Becoming ill sometimes entails high blood pressure, endometriosis, and headaches, but will almost always include muscle twitching, loss of coordination, weakness, muscle atrophy, and impaired cognitive function.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests eating only 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, and catfish, which contain lower levels of mercury. If you’re going for albacore tuna — white tuna — which has more mercury than light tuna, try to keep that portion down to 6 ounces. If you want to make it easier, the Natural Resources Defense Council has a chart showing how many cans of albacore and light tuna you should eat based on your weight. Tuna may taste delicious, and it truly is a rather healthy food, but it’s important to moderate consumption to avoid seriously poisoning yourself.

Rhubarb Leaves

Thanksgiving is this week, and with it comes the beginning of the holiday season. With that comes an abundance of food, and lots of sweets. Rhubarb pie is one of those; it’s a staple on many American families’ dinner tables, both tart and sweet.

If you’re planning on using rhubarb this holiday season, or ever, it’s important you throw out the leaves on the end of the plant’s stalks — they can be poisonous. The leaves contains high levels of oxalic acid, which can also be found in bleach, pesticides, and paint remover. Consuming them first causes a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, which leads to nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, shock, coma, kidney stones, seizures, and sometimes death, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It’s easy to get rid of the leaves and thus make eating rhubarb safe. But if your rhubarb is subject to frost, it’s best to throw all of it out, as the cold triggers chemical reactions within the plant, releasing the toxins into the stalk.