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Thursday, October 23, 2008

6 Dirtiest Foods in America

Take heed—these common foods could ruin your dinner by making you sick.

If you've ever been struck with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal cramps after dining out (or in), chances are that you were just one of the millions of "dirty food" victims that this country sees every year.
Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, is the result of consuming food or beverages contaminated with parasites, viruses, or bacteria. Most of these infections are undiagnosed and unreported, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 76 million cases of foodborne disease occur in the United States each year. In fact, it may result in as many as 5,000 deaths each year.
Although food poisoning is usually unexpected, it's no secret that some food items are definitely dirtier than others. Here, a look at some of the dirtiest foods that are most likely to make you sick, according to the CDC.
1. Raw Oysters.
These mollusks have been said to have aphrodisiacal properties, but that's assuming that they don't make you sick first. Large outbreaks of the norovirus (one of several viruses responsible for the stomach flu) have been linked to raw oysters, so you might want to think twice before you slurp.
2. Ground Beef.
In everything from hamburgers to tacos to chili, the average American consumes over 66 pounds of ground beef each year. Unfortunately, although any food of animal origin can harbor bacteria, when meat is ground, it's even more exposed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Listeria, salmonella, E. coli, and staph, which are invisible to the eyes and nose, are just a few of the harmful bacteria that could be lurking in your meat.
3. Alfalfa Sprouts.
If you're on of the many Americans who piles on the sprouts at the salad bar, you may also be getting a heaping pile of food poisoning. Oregon and Washington recently recalled a large amount of alfalfa sprouts after the USDA confirmed that they were likely linked to 13 cases of salmonella typhimirium infection-at least two individuals were hospitalized.
4. Milk.
It does a body good-but if it hasn't been pasteurized (put through a process that kills harmful bacteria through heating), it could be dangerous. Milk and milk products contain a wealth of nutrients, but according to the CDC, they can also contain salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. More than 800 people in the United States have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk in the past 10 years.
5. Raw Eggs.
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on earth, but if your mother ever yelled at you for trying to eat the leftover cookie dough or cake batter, she had good reason. Raw or even undercooked eggs can carry dangerous salmonella bacteria, one of the most common causes of food poisoning, so the Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing might not be the wisest decision.
6. Poultry.
If you're weary of beef but not quite ready to jump on the vegetarian bandwagon, chicken is likely your protein of choice. And why not? It's simple to prepare and easily integrated into a healthy diet. But of course it might be too good to be true-a study published in the December 2001 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that nearly 40 percent of the chicken samples taken yielded E. coli. Veggie burgers


Jennie said...

Check out the website I was shocked to learn that several individuals die each year from the consumption of raw oysters that are contaminated with naturally occurring Vibrio bacteria. Some gulf states have chosen to not take action in order to make raw oysters safe for ALL consumers.

Several years ago, the state of California made a requirement that all imported raw oysters must be pasteurized and since that requirement was put into place there have been NO FURTHER DEATHS in that state.

In order to affect change, consumers need to only accept oysters that are SAFE through post harvest processing or through being cooked. Consumer demand drives the market and the industry would be forced to provide oysters that did not lead to unnecessary deaths.

The website has a wealth of information available and also explains how you can help in making the consumption of oysters safe for everyone.

Bertha P said...

I agree with Jennie. Consumers should demand safe food!

There are safe eggs available too. They have been pasteurized in the shell -- just by using warm water.

Davidson's Safest Choice Pasteurized Shell Eggs. Why on earth are these not available on every grocery store shelf in America??? Perhaps the egg industry and the grocery stores don't want this product to be successful? Check it out. Demand safe food choices from your grocery store!!