Here’s a stat that might upset your stomach: every year, 1 out of 6 Americans falls ill to food poisoning. That’s 48 million cases of stomach queasiness, according to the FDA!
To protect yourself, it’s obviously important to follow basic food prep guidelines like cooking your meats thoroughly and washing veggies.
There may also be foods worth avoiding to reduce your risk.
Food safety expert Bill Marler, who runs a law practice advocating for those afflicted by food poisoning, recently shared the foods he won’t eat. Here are excerpts from his site Food Poison Journal.
Unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and packaged juices
“There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization,” Marler says.
“There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination,” Marler says. “Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.”
Meat that isn’t well-done
“The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it,” Marler says. “If it’s not cooked thoroughly to 160°F throughout, it can cause poisoning by E. coli and salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.”
Prewashed or precut fruits and vegetables
“I avoid these like the plague,” Marler says. “We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food—bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that. Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk.”
Raw or undercooked eggs
“I think the risk of egg contamination is much lower today than it was 20 years ago for salmonella, but I still eat my eggs well-cooked,” Marler says.
Raw oysters and other raw shellfish
“Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water,” Marler explains. “If there’s bacteria in the water it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I’ve seen a lot more of that over the last five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It’s simply not worth the risk.”