Avoiding Food Poisoning: Five Foods with Higher Risk for Causing Food Poisoning
About 50 million United States citizens contract some sort of foodborne illness each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that it is common, and it is likely that most will experience this in their lifetime. However, there are certainly ways that bacterial food poisoning can be prevented or avoided. Staying up to date with outbreaks of food poisoning and infectious bacteria is always important. Washing your hands before eating or preparing food and avoiding eating anywhere where human or animal fecal matter may be present are ways to avoid foodborne illness. These will prevent most instances of food poisoning or bacterial infections, but there are specific foods that are more likely to cause food poisoning than others. These foods certainly may still be consumed, but specific considerations and precautions should be taken when purchasing, preparing, and consuming them.
- One of these foods is eggs, which can be infected by salmonella. Birds that are infected by salmonella are more likely to transfer it to their laid eggs, so it is crucial that any purchased or harvested eggs be refrigerated and checked for cracks in the shell (you should not purchase or harvest any eggs with signs of damage on their shells).
- Meat of any kind should be prepared in a sanitary environment, and when working with raw or uncooked meat this is especially important. Hand washing before and immediately after working with raw meat is important. Salmonella can be contracted from raw poultry, and red meats like ground beef are known to be a leading cause of coli infections.
- Sprouts can be sources of food poisoning if they are not properly washed, refrigerated, and stored away from other vegetables and fruits. There is not guarantee that sprouts are completely clean of bacteria, even if purchased from the grocery store.
- Seafood should not be consumed raw or uncooked whenever possible, especially with the rise in vibrio illnesses linked to raw shellfish. A commitment to proper handwashing and maintaining a sanitary environment when working with raw seafood is crucial for avoiding sickness.
- Dairy products should always be refrigerated and should only be purchased and consumed if the “best by” date has not passed.
If one does get food poisoning, it is important to consider that minor food poisoning should only last up to 2-3 days. Staying hydrated, maintaining electrolytes, and being well rested during this period is important. If symptoms persist past a few days, or worsen to painful stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, or nausea, it is possible a more serious infection like salmonella or E. coli is taking place. In these cases, medical attention should be sought after right away to avoid worse complications like hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).