10 Most Dangerous Foods
(CBS) Foodborne illness affects an estimated 76 million people each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among those cases, 325,000 people are hospitalized each year, and 5,000 die — just from what they ate.
So, which foods have the highest risk of contamination?
The Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a list Tuesday of the top ten foods that can make you sick (pdf file).
CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton explained why certain ones ended up on the list, and what you can do to eat more safely.
1. Leafy Greens
7. Ice Cream
Ashton said the No. 1 item, lettuce, can be highly contaminated with bacteria.
Ashton recalled the 2006 outbreak with bagged spinach. Several people died, she said, and many were hospitalized. The greens, Ashton said, can be contaminated by the very common strains of E.Colia and/or Salmonella causing large outbreaks of disease. Often the greens become infected on the farm through contact with wild animals, manure and contaminated water, and then the germs follow the product through the whole distribution system.
Salmonella, Ashton said, is what poisons eggs.
“That’s why you can’t eat raw eggs in a Caesar’s salad,” she explained.
Outbreaks, Ashton added, can also happen from an infected person to a food product, and thus may indicate improper food handling during preparation.
Most of foodborne illnesses, Ashton said, are mild and are not treated. You can get a stomach ache, cramps, or diarrhea. But, in more severe cases, she said, food poisoning can turn into kidney failure, paralysis and even death.
However, Ashton said, people shouldn’t avoid many of these healthy foods. They should just take steps to make sure steps are taken to make sure food is prepared well.
To avoid food borne illness, Ashton recommended washing fruits and vegetables well. When cooking, Ashton added, you should also bring meat to about 160 degrees. Freezing, she added, can also kill bacteria. But, if you’re at a salad bar, for instance, and you don’t have a choice, Ashton said you should go for foods further back to avoid foods that may be contaminated in the front.