In light of the recent recall of salmonella laced eggs, many of us are being a little more careful about what we buy and eat. Perhaps we are also being more careful about how we handle and prepare foods. Maybe not. I know that I am very careful to keep raw meat and any vegetables that I may be chopping from making contact with each other by using separate cutting boards, but I could be a little better about washing certain foods. I have never had food poisoning, but I suspect that if I had, I would be far more careful.
Food poisoning is miserable, and in some cases, deadly. We all know not to eat potato salad that has been sitting out in the warm air for hours, but what other foods can make us sick? You might be surprised by some of the foods on the top ten list. I know that I was. Here is a look at the top ten types of foods most likely to make you sick.
Leafy Greens– Perhaps you remember the big tainted spinach outbreak several years ago. Our favorite leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, and cabbage, can all make us sick unless we handle and prepare them properly. Because these greens come into contact with soil fertilized with manure, or may be rinsed with dirty water, or touched by dirty hands, it is important that we wash our hands with soap and water after handling leafy greens. We also need to wash the leafy greens that we use under running water right before using them or we open ourselves up to a host of bacteria. Also, do not let uncooked meat touch raw veggies when preparing your meal.
Eggs – Back in school, we learned about those bad guys, Sam n Ella. Raw eggs are a prime source of salmonella, at the center of the very current egg controversy. To avoid getting salmonella from eggs, cook them thoroughly to kill the bacteria, and wash your hands after handling eggs. Also, avoid the temptation to eat foods containing raw eggs, such as raw cookie dough, and Ceasar salad if the dressing is made using raw eggs.
Tuna– This one surprised me. When tuna is caught it needs to be stored at a temperature of under 60 degrees. If it is store at a temperature that is above 60 degrees, the fish can become contamination by something called scombrotoxin, which just sounds icky. This food poison producing toxin cannot be cooked out, or killed by cooking, so tainted tuna cannot be untainted once it is infected. With this one, you take your chances…
Oysters– Raw oysters are considered to be a treat by many and an aphrodisiac by some. Oysters lay at the bottom of the ocean, and they feed by filtering the water found at the bottom of the ocean. If that water contains bacteria, then so will the raw oysters. That can mean eating some bad bacteria. If you are an oyster lover, learn to love them cooked.
Potatoes– Another surprise to me is that potatoes are on the list. If you wash your potatoes well, and cook them, then you are most likely safe. However, that summer potato salad can make you sick if it is not stored properly, or if the potatoes being prepared and contaminated by any raw meat that you are handling. Use separate cutting boards, and store cooked potato salads in the refrigerator.
Cheeses– Here we are looking mostly at soft cheeses, served at home. Soft cheeses that are not properly handled or store may contain listeria, which can cause miscarriages in pregnant women, and salmonella, which will just plain make you sick. While serving these cheese at room temperature is recommended for full flavor, keep them refrigerated, and do not leave them sitting out too long.
Ice Cream– I know! Ice Cream! Who would have thought that ice cream was on any top ten list aside from yummy things to eat? Salmonella and staphylococcus both can hide in ice cream. Store bought ice cream may accidentally have pasteurized ingredients mixed with non pasteurized ingredients, and can become contaminated that way. At home, the use of raw eggs in homemade ice cream causes the risk. Find an ice cream recipe that does not use raw eggs.
Tomatoes– Like leafy greens, tomatoes may arrive to use already contaminated. Wash them well, and wash your hands well after handling.
Sprouts– Ultra-healthy sprouts can become contaminated as seeds, or by the water they are grown with, or by handling. Since sprouts are almost never cooked, whatever they become contaminated with remains present right up until they are eaten. For this reason, young children, people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly are cautioned against eating sprouts, such alfalfa sprouts.
There is your top ten list of foods that may make you sick. In many cases, properly handling and cooking the foods greatly reduce the risk, but with some of these foods it seems to be a craps shoot. Whether you continue to eat to some of the more risky foods depends on how much of a gambler you are. Bon Appetit!
10 Types of Food That Can Make You Sick