If you’ve ever experienced food poisoning you never want to experience it again.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated that 48 million people in the U.S. get sick from food-borne illnesses and 128,000 people are hospitalized from food-related illness. Researchers have identified hundreds of food-borne diseases, most being infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites although toxins and chemicals can also contaminate food.
While many forms of potential contamination seem obvious there are lots that aren’t. Reader’s Digest spoke to several experts who identified certain less obvious foods that can give you food poisoning. Here are nine:
- Sunny-side-up eggs. It’s a great breakfast but the biggest risk with eating this, or any other meal with eggs, is the potential risk of salmonella infection, a common cause for food poisoning. Makes sure you cook the egg thoroughly.
- Chicken livers. They are rich in iron but undercooked chicken livers can be teeming with the bacteria Campylobacter. Livers should be thoroughly cooked. How can you tell if they have been prepared properly? Livers should have a crumbly texture.
- Burgers. Say it ain’t so! Unfortunately, this all-American favorite is one of those foods that you probably didn’t know could cause food poisoning. This is because ground beef may contain pathogens on the surface before it is ground up. Despite popular belief, you cannot go by color alone to predict whether or not meat is contaminated. Ground meat needs to be cooked at high temperatures.
- Tuna. If raw fish is not stored properly before being cooked it could give you scombroid poisoning and tuna is especially prone to this. A dead giveaway that your tuna is contaminated is if it has a burnt or peppery taste. It is best to order your fish from a reputable restaurant and make sure you move it your refrigerator as quickly as possible.
- Leafy greens. While it is common knowledge that meat and other animal products can cause food poisoning, not many people are aware that leafy green salad leaves also can be easily contaminated. Aside from containing bacteria like E. coli, salad greens can also be contaminated with other potential pathogens including fertilizers and even tainted water. Wash your leafy greens and veggies properly before eating them.
- Potato Salad. This creamy treat complements most meals and is a regular at picnics and barbeques but, while it seems harmless enough, potato salad can be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and parasites. This is because of cross-contamination. When vegetables like potatoes are chopped up, there are more surfaces exposed to potential pathogens. If you are buying your potato salad from a deli, cross-contamination with deli meat and cheese makes it even more accessible to bacteria.
- Apple cider. When apples are pressed, bacteria on the fruit’s surface can get mixed into the juice. That apple cider may be a refreshing treat but ideally it should be pasteurized.
- Flour. So you have opted for an eggless batter to avoid any potential food poisoning but if the grain was contaminated with bacteria parasites, they could easily survive the milling process and still end up in your flour. When you are working with flour, make sure you wash your hands.
- Red kidney beans. This legume is packed with iron, fiber and good carbs but it also contains lectin, a type of protein that can cause food poisoning. The way to avoid that is to boil the bean for about 30 minutes, because the high heat will destroy the red bean lectin.