Top ten riskiest foods

Some of our favorite foods, like ice cream, are on the top ten list of some of the riskiest foods for us to eat.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently compiled a list of the top ten riskiest foods that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates based on FDA foodborne illness reports. Each of the foods involved have thousands of reported cases of illness. On the list are foods that most of us eat on a fairly regular basis.

  1. Leafy greens
  2. Eggs
  3. Tuna
  4. Oysters
  5. Potatoes
  6. Cheese
  7. Ice cream
  8. Tomatoes
  9. Sprouts
  10. Berries

Pathogens, microscopic organisms that can make us sick, found in or on these foods cause sickness that can range from just having stomach cramps and diarrhea to death. Certain high risk groups are even more susceptible to life threatening results when eating contaminated food. These groups include infants and preschool children, adults 65 years old and older, pregnant women, and immuno-compromised children and adults are considered at high-risk. These people may get sick sooner, have more serious symptoms or need medical care.

Pathogens that are often linked to meat and poultry are Salmonella and E.coli 0157:H7 and both have been linked to many of the food items listed above. Salmonella was the cause of 33% of the outbreaks associated with these foods.

Other pathogens associated with these top ten foods include Campylobacter, Scrombrotoxin, Vibrio and Norovirus.

Michigan State University Extension offers these suggestions to help consumers control pathogens:

  • Practice good personal hygiene. This includes good handwashing practices as well as keeping kitchen work areas clean.
  • Thoroughly rinsing fruits and vegetables and scrubbing them with a vegetable brush when possible.
  • Keep raw foods and ready to eat food separate.
  • Cook foods thoroughly.
  • Store food properly. Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours and for only one hour in the summer, when the temperatures may be warmer than normal. 

Unfortunately, sometimes we have no control over the pathogens that make us sick. However, the precautions listed above have been proven to help in cases when the consumer does have some control.

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