If there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s that getting food poisoning can be one of the most miserable experiences imaginable. Thankfully, we know which foods are most likely to make you sick, so be extra-careful when you eat these.
Food poisoning can come in many different forms, and there have been some terrible outbreaks over the years. Most of these outbreaks have come from salmonella, which usually occurs when produce isn’t properly cleaned, or from E. coli, as a result of eating undercooked animal products. Another major cause of food poisoning is listeria, which can cause miscarriages, and hepatitis A and a whole host of other illnesses can be contracted through food.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, about 76 million people contract foodborne illness, and about 5,000 of them die. That means that your odds of actually dying from food poisoning are pretty slim (chances of death are higher for the very young and very old), but you’re still going to have a bad time.
Unfortunately, food can become contaminated at any point during production and preparation. Chicken can be contaminated with E. coli while it’s still in the slaughterhouse, or it can begin to spoil while it’s being kept in a restaurant’s cooler. Same for vegetables; they can carry disease all the way from the farm to your table, or an inattentive cook might use the same knife he just used to de-bone a chicken on your lettuce. Thankfully, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been keeping close tabs on which foods most commonly carry food poisoning.
So read on to learn which foods are the most likely to give you food poisoning, along with some tips on how to best avoid contracting it.
Because they’re uncooked and eaten by so many, leafy greens are one the most common food poisoning culprits, accounting for 8,836 reported cases of food-borne illness between 1998 and 2008, according to the CDC. Always make sure that vegetables are washed thoroughly before they’re eaten.
The risk of ingesting salmonella from raw eggs might be lower than it used to be, but there have still been more than 11,000 egg-related cases in recent years. Salmonella contaminates eggs before they’re even hatched, and is impossible to detect, so while those sunny side-up eggs might look tempting, opt for scrambled instead if you want to be safe.
This article was originally published August 8, 2014.