By now you’ve heard a lot about the healthy types of food that you should be eating. But what about the foods that might contain dangerous bacteria and actually make you sick fairly quickly? Depending on your age and health, some bacteria can such as salmonella and E. coli can be dangerous enough to land you in the hospital. Here are the eight items that food-safety experts never eat.
- Sprouts. Seeds and beans need warm, humid conditions to sprout and grow. Unfortunately, bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria thrive in the same conditions. If you’re going to eat sprouts, cook them. Avoid sandwiches and salads that contain them or ask the restaurant to leave them off.
- Canned tomatoes. The lining in a tin can contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, obesity and diabetes. For many canned foods this is not really a problem. But the acidity in tomatoes causes BPA to leach into them. Purchase tomatoes in glass jars, can your own, or eat them fresh.
- Cantaloupe. Surprisingly, cantaloupe rinds often contain dangerous bacteria that are nearly impossible to wash away. When you cut through the rind with a knife, the bacteria works its way into the melon.
- Raw eggs. Raw eggs can be rife with bacteria such as salmonella. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 100,000 people get salmonella poisoning from raw eggs each year. Be sure to cook your eggs fully and store them properly in a refrigerated area.
- Raw or undercooked beef. Raw or rare ground beef can also contain bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli. Always cook your ground beef to a high internal temperature of 160ºF or more to kill the bacteria. Also note that checking for the beef’s color is not a sure bet. Even well done burgers may not have reached 160ºF during cooking. Use a meat thermometer to be sure those burgers are cooked well enough and your guests are safe from illness.
- Raw shellfish. Those pricey raw oysters you find in high-end restaurants are risky because they can be exposed to raw waste while under water. A bacteria called Vibrio can be found on raw oysters and produces a toxin that attacks less healthy livers.
- Raw milk. Raw milk also can contain bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and brucella, according to the CDC. Young children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk from raw milk.
- Nonorganic potatoes. Root vegetables such as potatoes absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. Potatoes are treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides right before the harvest. Then they are treated yet again once they are dug up to prevent them from sprouting. Even if you wash the potatoes well and peel them, the chemicals have been absorbed throughout the root. Buy organic potatoes, which are only slightly more expensive than traditional ones.
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