Ediets.com provided some good tips on safer eating this morning in an article titled, "13 Foods That Could Kill". The thirteen foods the column focuses on are:
Lettuce: because lettuce has been identified as the source of several E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2006, Dole spinach was the source of a large E. coli outbreak, and lettuce was the source of outbreaks at Taco Bell and Taco John’s restaurants. Ediets.com states, "All raw fruits and vegetables can harbor disease-causing bacteria. Thoroughly wash any raw produce under cold running water before eating it. If appropriate, use a small scrub brush to remove any visible dirt. This is true even for organic fruits and vegetables."
Water: because contaminated water can harbor bacteria, viruses, and parasites, it is important to ensure your drinking water, as well as water in pools or at sprayparks, has been properly treated to eliminate the possibility of contamination. According to Ediets.com, "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that private water supplies be tested at least once a year for: nitrates, total dissolved solids and coliform bacteria, the presence of which (although it is generally harmless) may indicate other contamination. You may need to test more frequently and for more potential contaminants if a problem is suspected."
Raw sprouts: Because sprout seeds can be contaminated with foodborne pathogens that cause food poisoning, raw sprouts should be avoided. Raw sprouts have been associated with E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks. Ediets encourages consumers to cook sprouts thoroughly to kill bacteria.
Unpasteurized juice, milk or cheese: Because unpasteurized juices and "raw" dairy products do not go through a "kill step" before they are served, bacteria, viruses, or parasites could be present in the products. Several E. coli outbreaks have been traced to raw juices, including a 1996 E. coli outbreak traced to apple juice and subsequent Salmonella outbreaks traced to orange juice. outbreaks have been traced back to raw milk, including E. coli outbreaks that resulted in children being hospitalized for kidney failure. Edites.com states, "Make sure you always purchase the pasteurized versions of your favorite products. Pasteurization kills bacteria. When you go to a juice bar, make sure the juices being served are pasteurized. Unpasteurized products have been linked to salmonella, E. coli and Listeria — all of which can lead to death."
Moldy peanuts: Because moldy peanuts, wheat chereals, and corn can produce aflatoxins. Ediets.com encourages people to check these products for any signs of discoloration or mold, as, "Alfatoxins have been found to cause liver cancer in animal species."
Raw or undercooked shellfish: Because shellfish, such as clams and oysters, can be contaminated with micro-organisms such as vibrio or viruses such as norovirus. Raw oysters should be avoided. Ediets.com states: "Any animal protein consumed raw or undercooked has an increased potential for causing illness."
Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish: Because these fish have been associated with high levels of methyl mercury, which can cause brain damage in unborn and young children. According to Ediets.com, "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the EPA advise young children, women who are planning to become pregnant and pregnant or nursing women not to eat these fish."
Caesar salad: Because many recipes for Caesar salad dressing call for raw eggs, and eggs can carry Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, and other foodborne pathogens. Ediets.com encourages you to ask your server or host if Caesar salad dressing contains raw eggs because, "Many restaurant or homemade recipes call for raw eggs in Caesar salad."
Wild mushrooms: Because several species of mushrooms contain deadly poisons. According to Ediets.com, "Portabella and shiitake lovers have no reason to worry. Just don’t go scavenging in your backyard. Only eat mushrooms you’ve purchased in the grocery store."
Raw, homemade cookie dough. Because, again, raw eggs can contain potentially deadly foodborne pathogens. Ediets.com says, "We’re not talking about the prepackaged kind that many of us prefer to nibble on straight from the tube or tub. We’re talking about homemade batter that’s made with eggs."
Rare hamburger. Because ground beef can be contaminated with E. coli, Salmonella, and other bacterial pathogens that cause food poisoning. All ground beef products and hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit. Ediets.com provides the advice to, "Always use a food thermometer to ensure you’ve cooked the beef to a safe temperature. Avoid any restaurant entrée labeled "tartare" – it’s raw."
Turkey and stuffing. Because stuffing cooked inside a turkey or chicken has a reduced likelihood of reaching a hot enough temperature to kill Salmonella, Campylobacter, or other "bugs". Ediets explains, "The bird cooks both from the outside and the inside. When you stuff the bird, it reduces the heat penetration. Your best bet is to cook the turkey and stuffing separately. If you do choose to cook them together, make sure the temperature reaches at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the innermost part of the thigh while the center of the stuffing inside the turkey reaches 165 degrees."
Shakes and eggs. Because, as pointed out earlier, raw eggs can carry Salmonella or Campylobacter jejuni. Protein shakes can be made with p asteurized eggs, but unless they’re pasteurized, avoid raw eggs. Ediets warns, "Once again, you’re putting yourself at risk for salmonella when you consume raw eggs. Also, beware of sunny side up or runny eggs. The rule of thumb is to cook the egg until both the yolk and the white are firm."