Food poisoning happens when people consume food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins.
Here are the Top 7 foods that are most likely to cause food poisoning, if not properly stored, prepared, preserved or cooked:
#1: Raw and Undercooked Poultry:
Raw and undercooked poutry such as chicken, duck and turkey have a high risk of causing food poisoning.
This is mainly due to two types of bacteria, Campylobacter and Salmonella, which are commonly found in the guts and feathers of these birds.
These bacteria often contaminate fresh poultry meat during the slaughtering process, and they can survive up until cooking kills them
The good news is that although these harmful bacteria can live on raw poultry, they’re completely eliminated when meat is cooked thoroughly.
To reduce your risk, ensure poultry meat is cooked through completely, do not wash raw meat and ensure that raw meat does not come in contact with utensils, kitchen surfaces, chopping boards and other foods, since this can result in cross-contamination.
SUMMARY: RAW AND UNDERCOOKED POULTRY IS A COMMON SOURCE OF FOOD POISONING. TO REDUCE YOUR RISK, THOROUGHLY COOK CHICKEN, DUCK AND TURKEY MEAT. THIS WILL ELIMINATE ANY HARMFUL BACTERIA PRESENT.
#2. Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Vegetables and leafy greens are a common source of food poisoning, especially when eaten raw.
In fact, fruits and vegetables have caused a number food poisoning outbreaks, particularly lettuce, spinach, cabbage, celery and tomatoes.
Vegetables and leafy greens can become contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria. This can occur across various stages of the supply chain.
To minimize your risk, always wash salad leaves thoroughly before eating. Do not purchase bags of salad mix that contain spoiled, mushy leaves and avoid pre-prepared salads that have been left to sit at room temperature.
SUMMARY: VEGETABLES AND LEAFY GREENS CAN OFTEN CARRY HARMFUL BACTERIA SUCH AS E.COLI, SALMONELLA AND
LISTERIA. TO REDUCE YOUR RISK, ALWAYS WASH VEGETABLES AND SALAD LEAVES AND ONLY PURCHASE PREPACKAGED SALADS THAT HAVE BEEN REFRIGERATED.
#3. Fish and Shellfish
Fish and shellfish are a common source of food poisoning.
Fish that has not been stored at the correct temperature has a high risk of being contaminated with histamine, a toxin produced by bacteria in fish.
Store-bought shellfish are usually safe to eat. However, shellfish caught from unmonitored areas may be unsafe due to contamination from sewage, storm water drains and septic tanks.
To reduce your risk, purchase store-bought seafood and ensure you keep it chilled and refrigerated before cooking. Make sure fish is cooked through, and cook clams, mussels and oysters till the shells open. Throw away the shells that don’t open.
SUMMARY: FISH AND SHELLFISH ARE A COMMON SOURCE OF FOOD POISONING DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF HISTAMINE AND TOXINS. TO REDUCE YOUR RISK, STICK WITH STORE-BOUGHT SEAFOOD AND KEEP IT CHILLED BEFORE USE.
Rice is one of the oldest cereal grains and a staple food for more than half the world’s population. However, it is a high-risk food when it comes to food poisoning.
Uncooked rice can be contaminated with spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that produces toxins that cause food poisoning.
These spores can live in dry conditions. For example, they can survive in a package of uncooked rice in your pantry. They can also survive the cooking process.
If cooked rice is left standing at room temperature, these spores grow into bacteria that thrive and multiply in the warm, moist environment. The longer rice is left standing at room temperature, the more likely it will be unsafe to eat.
To reduce your risk, serve rice as soon as it has been cooked and refrigerate leftover rice as quickly as possible after cooking. When reheating cooked rice, make sure it is steaming hot all the way through.
SUMMARY: RICE IS A HIGH-RISK FOOD DUE TOBACILLUS CEREUS. SPORES OF THIS BACTERIUM CAN LIVE IN UNCOOKED RICE, AND CAN GROW AND MULTIPLY ONCE RICE IS COOKED. TO REDUCE YOUR RISK, EAT RICE AS SOON AS IT IS COOKED AND REFRIGERATE LEFTOVERS IMMEDIATELY.
#5. Deli Meats
Deli meats including ham, bacon, salami and hot dogs can be a source of food poisoning.
They can become contaminated with harmful bacteria including Listeria and Staphylococcus aureus at several stages during processing and manufacturing.
Contamination can occur directly through contact with contaminated raw meat or by poor hygiene by deli staff, poor cleaning practices and cross-contamination from unclean equipment such as slicer blades.
It is important to note that all meat carries a risk of food poisoning if it is not cooked or stored properly.
Hotdogs, minced meat, sausages and bacon should be cooked thoroughly and should be consumed immediately after being cooked. Sliced lunch meats should be stored in the refrigerator until they are ready to be eaten.
SUMMARY: DELI MEATS INCLUDING HAM, SALAMI AND HOT DOGS CAN BE CONTAMINATED WITH BACTERIA THAT CAUSE FOOD POISONING. IT IS IMPORTANT TO STORE DELI MEATS IN THE REFRIGERATOR AND COOK MEAT THOROUGHLY BEFORE EATING.
#6. Unpasteurized Dairy
Pasteurization is the process of heating a liquid or food to kill harmful microorganisms.
Food manufacturers pasteurize dairy products including milk and cheese to make them safe to consume. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and parasites such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella.
To minimize your risk of food poisoning from unpasteurized dairy, purchase pasteurized products only. Store all dairy at or under 40°F (5°C) and throw out dairy that is past its use-by date.
SUMMARY: PASTEURIZATION INVOLVES HEATING FOODS AND LIQUIDS TO KILL HARMFUL MICROORGANISMS SUCH AS BACTERIA. UNPASTEURIZED DAIRY HAS BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH A HIGH RISK OF FOOD POISONING.
While eggs are incredibly nutritious and versatile, they can also be a source of food poisoning when they’re consumed raw or undercooked.
This is because eggs can carry Salmonella bacteria, which can contaminate both the eggshell and the inside of the egg.
To reduce your risk, do not consume eggs with a cracked or dirty shell. Where possible, choose pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for raw or lightly cooked eggs.
SUMMARY: RAW AND UNDERCOOKED EGGS CAN CARRY SALMONELLA BACTERIA. CHOOSE PASTEURIZED EGGS WHEN POSSIBLE AND AVOID EGGS THAT HAVE CRACKED OR DIRTY SHELLS.