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10 Groceries Most Likely to Cause Food Poisoning: Big Surprise

10 Groceries Most Likely to Cause Food Poisoning: Big Surprise

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April 1, 2023 | 1:41 p.m

Onions, peaches, and deli meats, oh my goodness—these are just some of the dangerous foods lurking in your kitchen.

Last Study by Consumer Reports It reveals 10 kitchen staples often associated with food recalls from 2017 to 2022, some of which may shock you.

The report notes that an estimated 48 million people become ill from salmonella, listeria, Escherichia coli or other foodborne bacteria or viruses each year, resulting in nearly 130,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

“We’re not saying people need to avoid these foods completely,” said Brian Ronholm, CR’s director of food policy, who led the analysis.

Instead, consumers should know “the importance of following food safety best practices with all of your foods, including knowing how to track and respond to food recalls when they occur.”

Leafy greens, like those in packaged salads, will show up with 11 deaths, 614 illnesses, and 50 recalls/outbreaks.

Escherichia coli and listeria are to blame, and CR says the likely culprit is water contaminated with the bacteria from animal waste that is then used to irrigate crops.

Much of the lettuce in the country comes from California and Arizona, so one damaged facility could lead to widespread problems.

Raw flour ground into a plant like this poses salmonella risks.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce and packaged salad mixes, have been linked to 11 deaths, 614 illnesses, and 50 recalls/outbreaks.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Concentration in the salad processing industry means greater opportunity for contamination and larger outbreaks when they occur,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, CR chief scientist.

Eating leafy greens raw does not help, as heating kills bacteria.

Experts recommend buying whole heads of lettuce, rather than bags or boxes of greens, and removing the outer leaves, where bacteria are often found.

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Greenhouse-grown lettuce is also less likely to come into contact with manure. Or ditch the salad altogether and make cooked vegetables instead.

Consumer Reports experts have called the deli deli meats “food nightmares.”
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The report also lists deli meats and cheeses — such as deli meats, sliced ​​cheese or soft cheeses — as potential sources of listeria, which can cause serious (and sometimes fatal) infections.

CR counts seven deaths, more than 400 illnesses and 122 outbreaks/recalls over five years.

Experts advise giving up the “dietary nightmare,” eating sodium-packed deli meats altogether.

Packaged ground beef isn’t safe either — 22 outbreaks linked to E. coli and salmonella contamination have been reported.

Specifically, deadly strains of bacteria can pass from the cow’s gut into the meat.

Salmonella is a bigger concern, and preparation is key.

Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator, and cook ground beef and pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and whole cuts, such as steaks, to 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Ground beef can contain E. coli and salmonella, so it must be cooked properly.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Onion was a “big surprise” on CR’s menu. But in 2020 and 2021, batches of red, white and yellow onions were recalled due to salmonella.

Cooking onions kills any bacteria, and choosing vegetables that aren’t bruised and storing them out of sunlight are ways to avoid foodborne illness.

Turkey and chicken come in the top six in the CR report, thanks to salmonella, which the publication blames on feather removal and the sloppy conditions in which the birds are raised.

CR recommends cooking chicken and turkey in all forms to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and not rinsing the birds to reduce the risk of salmonella spreading around the kitchen.

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Pre-cut fruits like papaya, peaches, and watermelon — eaten raw — also carry salmonella risks.

Dr. James E. “When you cut produce, you increase the risk of transferring bacteria that may be on their surface to their meat,” says Rogers, director of CR’s Division of Food Safety Research and Testing.

“In commercial facilities, with fruits and vegetables being processed in one location, it can create opportunities for cross-contamination.”

Among papaya, cantaloupe, and peaches, more than 700 illnesses and 22 recalls/outbreaks have been reported.

Pre-cut fruits like papaya, watermelon, and peaches can be contaminated with the bacteria.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Finally, and perhaps most shockingly, is raw flour.

While it’s tempting, don’t eat the raw batter or dough — even though it’s delicious, it can be contaminated with bacteria.

Cooking is the only way to kill it and ensure safe eating, and experts recommend washing surfaces, dishes, and your hands thoroughly when they come into contact with raw flour.

The CR results coincide with an urgent notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which this week warned people not to eat raw or undercooked flour because of a salmonella outbreak in 11 states that has hospitalized three people.

“Flour does not look like raw food, but most flour is raw,” the agency warned.

To stay safe from foodborne illnesses, watch recalls and practice proper cooking techniques, which include diligently washing work surfaces and anything that touches raw meat; and cook foods well.


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