Homepage > What Are the Most Common Foods That Cause Food Poisoning?
August 25, 2022
Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers
Every time you eat, you expose your body to foreign organisms that your body processes and converts to energy. However, some foods contain harmful germs that poison your body and cause extreme sickness or even death. These food poisoning cases could arise for several reasons. The food might have been kept at the wrong temperature, not appropriately washed, or been cross-contaminated with other foods.
No matter the case, certain foods require specific care and attention when preparing and storing to avoid a food poisoning outbreak. These foods include the following:
These foods have specific cooking instructions and ways they become contaminated. We’ll explain each food and some tips to ensure you stay safe when consuming these products.
Beef and poultry are among the most common foods to cause sickness in the U.S. The germs often present in contaminated poultry include Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens. Germs in contaminated meat include Salmonella, E. Coli, and Yersinia.
Thoroughly cooking meat is the best way to avoid getting sick, and it’s vital to avoid washing uncooked meats—this could spread germs to other surfaces like the counter or other foods nearby. Cook ground meats to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
We recommend using a thermometer to ensure your food is cooked to the right temperature.
Improperly storing meat can also lead it to spoil. Grocers, food manufacturers, and restaurants should be aware of the “Danger Zone” and avoid keeping food — meat especially — exposed for too long. Meat should be stored at temperatures lower than 40 degrees. It’s dangerous to keep it at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees: germs and bacteria thrive in that range and can cause severe illness.
There are two active outbreaks involving ground beef. One is for Salmonella, and another is for E. coli.
Everybody knows eating your fruits and veggies is key to a balanced diet. However, cross-contamination can turn healthy food into a harmful substance that wreaks havoc on your system. Spoiled produce can contain germs like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
The most common way vegetables become breeding grounds for germs is through cross-contamination. This could include using the same cutting board for raw meats and veggies. Despite this being a basic cooking principle, busy restaurants with disorganized workstations can put guests at risk.
Ensuring plates, utensils, and cutting boards are thoroughly washed is the best way to prevent cross-contamination.
A recent 2022 outbreak of Hepatitis A was linked to organic strawberries.
Dairy products like yogurt and cheese containing raw milk are typically safe to eat. This is due to the milk pasteurization process, which kills the most harmful germs. Raw milk could put people at risk for Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella poisoning.
These germs, especially Listeria, can devastate pregnant women—often causing miscarriages, stillbirths, and other severe illnesses with newborns. For this reason, you should never consume any food products containing raw milk. The germs in raw milk could hospitalize you for weeks while you experience diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting. Drinking plenty of fluids is vital to your recovery.
Eggs have a long history of causing foodborne illnesses. People have become ill from contaminated eggs less often in recent years, thanks to better food safety protocols. However, that doesn’t mean you’re immune. Those five and under or 65 and older are at risk of severe illness caused by contaminated eggs.
Furthermore, those with compromised immune systems should be mindful of eating contaminated eggs.
A Salmonella-infected chicken may pass the bacteria onto any eggs it lays, either through fecal contamination of the shell or by transovarian transmission. Salmonella may enter the egg through a crack or its natural pores. It happens less frequently, but a chicken infected with Salmonella may lay an egg with the bacteria inside it.
Properly cleaning, storing, and cooking eggs can help prevent foodborne illness. Store-bought eggs are typically cleaned before you purchase them but double-checking before you crack the shell won’t hurt. Eggs should be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Eating raw batter or dough increases the chances of exposure to foodborne illnesses from eggs and other raw ingredients in the recipe.
Often consumed on vacation or at exotic locations, seafood and shellfish can turn a great trip into a dreadful one if it’s consumed raw or undercooked. Eating raw seafood might cause symptoms of numbness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
To prevent illness, seafood should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and if you plan to eat any leftovers, make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Certain reef fish contain a toxin called ciguatera, which cannot be killed during cooking. You’re also likely to catch Scombroid from fish like tuna, mahi-mahi, and marlin if you don’t refrigerate it properly after it’s been caught.
Oysters are a common source of Vibrio bacteria if they are raw or undercooked. If oysters were gathered from contaminated water, they might contain norovirus.
As you can see, seafood could contain several types of bacteria that, if not properly prepared, could lead to life-threatening consequences.
Another typical food that causes food poisoning you might not have thought of is raw flour. Flour is sold raw and is prone to contamination from different types of bacteria. It’s sold raw because all the bacteria and germs are killed when cooked.
However, sometimes people like to try raw dough or batter; like with raw eggs, you face exposure to E. Coli or other severe illnesses. E. Coli poisoning comes within three to four days after exposure and lasts about a week.
Sprouts are another food people don’t think of when they consider foodborne illness. Sprouts need warm temperatures to grow, which increases the potential threat of germs like Salmonella, E. coli, or Listeria.
Always cook sprouts thoroughly to ensure all germs are killed, and your food is safe.
Although there are best practices you can follow when cooking your own meals, you can’t control how a restaurant or manufacturer prepares food. Negligent staff might cross-contaminate foods, undercook them, or store them improperly.