Health 101: High-Risk Food That Cause Food Poisoning

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Food poisoning can be more than unpleasant because you’ll likely end up with more than tummy trouble. Statistics published in FoodSafety.gov revealed that foodborne illnesses sicken an estimated one out of six Americans every year. These illnesses also result in 3,000 fatalities and 128,000 hospitalizations annually.

Although you can take measures to minimize the likelihood of getting a foodborne illness, some products present a higher risk of food poisoning.

What are the likely culprits that could make you sick?

1Gravies, Stews and Sauces

These liquids make the main dish more delicious. Improper storage and preparation, however, can contaminate these items easily. They serve as a breeding ground for Clostridium perfringens, a type of bacteria that induces diarrhea and stomach cramps.

You can prevent the bacteria from messing with your body by cooking sauces, stews and gravies thoroughly. Then, use thermal solutions, such as a silicone drum heater, to keep these liquids as warm as possible (140 degrees Fahrenheit is the safe minimum temperature). Ideally, however, you serve sauces and stews immediately after cooking.

2Eggs 

This food is an excellent source of protein, as well as other nutrients, like selenium, zinc and iron. Eggs, however, are high-risk when talking about food poisoning – especially when you eat them raw or undercooked.

Eggs could harbor Salmonella, an infection that causes fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Detecting the presence of Salmonella or other types of bacteria using the naked eye is difficult. Oftentimes, the egg won’t taste, smell or appear any different from its contaminated counterpart.

What you can do, however, is to minimize your consumption of raw or lightly cooked eggs. Avoid tasting anything that has raw eggs in it. An example is the batter used to make cakes and other tasty desserts.

Also, you should purchase intact and clean eggs. Then, keep them refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to cut down the risk of infection. When you’re breaking eggs to make breakfast, lunch or dessert, don’t let the egg white or yolk touch the shell.

3Rice 

This is one of the most consumed food products on the planet. Ricepedia reveals that over 3.5 billion individuals around the world eat rice to meet their daily caloric needs. This global staple, however, is a high-risk food. It can naturally contain Bacillus cereus, a type of bacteria that produces toxins. When this pathogen enters the body, it can set off a range of symptoms, including cramping, vomiting and moderate nausea.

Storing cooked rice properly is crucial to preventing this foodborne illness. If you have leftover rice, store them in the fridge at the correct temperature (under 40 degrees Fahrenheit). If you’re going to reheat this food, make sure it’s piping hot.

4Leafy Greens and Vegetables

Although these greens are rich in vitamins and minerals, people often eat them raw. This could pose a problem if these veggies contain harmful contaminants. Bacteria, such as E. coli, may cause abdominal cramping, nausea and diarrhea.

Whether you’re going to eat these vegetables raw or cooked, make sure that you wash them thoroughly. Rinsing leafy greens under running water goes beyond reducing the likelihood of contracting a foodborne illness. It also washes away pesticides that may still be lingering on the food.

5Fermented and Canned Foods

These items contain non-harmful bacteria that enhance flavor. Although they’re safe to consume, dangerous bacteria can enter especially when something goes awry with the fermentation process.

One risk associated with these foods is botulism infection. This illness affects the body’s nervous system, resulting in paralysis. The infection can be fatal if the individual does not receive adequate medical treatment.

Limiting your consumption of fermented foods can minimize the risk of food poisoning. If you have leftover canned food, be sure to refrigerate that after opening.

6Raw Honey 

This type of honey comes with a multitude of health benefits. It can alleviate digestive problems and soothe a sore throat. This sweetener, however, can also give you food poisoning.

Raw honey does not undergo pasteurization, a process that uses heat to prolong shelf life and kill pathogenic micro-organisms. This sweetener may contain Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria responsible for causing botulism.

Another harmful pathogen that you can find in raw honey is grayanotoxin. Consuming food with this toxin may result in mad honey disease, a condition characterized by dizziness, nausea, hypotension and vomiting.

Limit your risk for food poisoning, and settle with regular, processed honey you find on the market.

These high-risk products can give you food poisoning when they’re contaminated. Adhering to proper cooking, handling and storing practices will help reduce the risk of foodborne illness and allow you to enjoy the nutrients in what you eat.

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