What Foods Cause the Most Food Poisoning?

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Many Americans are aware that foods like raw eggs and raw chicken may contain the bacteria Salmonella, and can cause sickness if not cooked properly. However, you might be surprised to find out that several other foods have gained notoriety over the past decade for causing many bacterial outbreaks.

Ice cream: Some people might assume that frozen foods would be exempt from this list. After all, can frozen bacteria actually cause food poisoning? In fact, it can. Frozen berries, frozen vegetables, and frozen dairy treats have all been the source of at least one outbreak of illness caused by Salmonella or Staphylococcus bacteria.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 75 outbreaks between 1990 and 2006 connected to contaminated ice cream. In 2015, one of the biggest ice cream producers in the U.S. had to temporarily cease its operations when a five-year Listeria outbreak was connected to its ice cream.

Unpasteurized milk: This is often called “raw milk” because it hasn’t been processed and comes straight from the cow; no heat is used to kill any bacteria before raw milk is sold. Even though many unprocessed foods are ideal for a healthy diet, there is a reason why raw milk may be hard to find. Quite simply, pasteurization is one of the most effective ways to make dairy products safer for consumption.

When milk isn’t pasteurized, it’s more likely to contain the same bacteria that might be found in raw eggs or meat: Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli.

Raw sprouts: This popular “superfood” is actually one of the most bacteria-prone raw foods you can buy in your local supermarket. If you prefer ordering salads when you go out to eat, you’ve probably also encountered plenty of salads topped with raw bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts. In a 10-year period from 2006 to 2016, the CDC recorded 30 individual “sproutbreaks” of Salmonella and E. coli poisoning from sprouts.

There are two reasons why all types of sprouts present food safety risks. First, sprouts are grown in warm, wet environments that may attract several species of bacteria. Second, sprouts are one of the most difficult vegetables to clean.

Melons: Who knew that fresh fruit could also cause food poisoning? While there is nothing inherently unhealthy about melons, they could pose health risks if they aren’t washed properly before consumption. If there is bacteria on the rind, it’s possible for contamination to occur when the knife slices through the skin and comes into contact with the fruit inside.

According to data from the CDC, 261 people suffered Salmonella poisoning in 2012, all traceable to a cantaloupe farm in Indiana. The year before, 147 people were infected with Listeria from eating cantaloupe, and 33 of these people died from the infection.
Preventing Food Poisoning: Is It Possible?

You can take several preventative measures to limit your risk of food poisoning. Storing, preparing, and cooking your food properly is essential for limiting the risk of food poisoning. In some cases, avoiding certain foods altogether may be a simple solution. But it’s not always possible to remove the risk of food poisoning entirely. Unpredictable outbreaks in recent years affecting peanut butter and frozen berries, for example, have taken many consumers by surprise.

So what should you do if you believe you’re suffering from food poisoning due to someone else’s negligence? First and foremost, seek medical attention. Once you’re healthy, you may want to consider speaking with a local personal injury lawyer who can provide counsel for filing a lawsuit.