You can get food poisoning if you eat something that is polluted with harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins. It can cause a range of symptoms including, in particular, stomach and stomach pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite. Pregnant women, small children, the elderly and men with chronic illnesses are more likely to get sick due to food poisoning. Certain foods cause food poisoning more often than others, especially if they are not properly stored, prepared or cooked. Below are the 9 foods that most often cause food poisoning.
By eating raw and uncooked meat from poultry such as chicken, duck and turkey you run a high risk of food poisoning. This is mainly due to two types of bacteria, the Campylobacter and the Salmonella, which often occur in the intestines and on the feathers of these birds. These bacteria infect fresh chicken meat during the slaughter process and they stay alive until cooking causes them to die ( 1 , 2 ). British, Irish and American research even showed that 41-84% of the raw chicken sold in supermarkets were infected with Campylobacter and 4-5% with Salmonella ( 3 , 4, 5).). The degree of contamination with Campylobacter in turkey was slightly lower, 14-56% and in duck meat the contamination was 36% ( 6 , 7 , 8 ). The good news is that these harmful bacteria, even if they can survive on the birds, will be killed by cooking the meat very well. To limit the risk, it is therefore important to cook poultry very well. Make sure that you do not put the raw meat in contact with kitchen utensils, countertops or countertops, cutting boards and other foods, as this can lead to cross-contamination ( 9 ).
In short: Raw and poorly cooked poultry is a common source of food poisoning. To reduce the risk, you should cook or bake chicken, duck and turkey well. This will kill the harmful bacteria that are in it.
2. Vegetables and lettuce
Vegetables are also often a source of food poisoning, especially if they are eaten raw. Fruit and vegetables have caused a number of outbreaks of food poisoning, especially lettuce, spinach, cabbage, celery and tomatoes ( 10 ). Vegetables can become contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria. This can be done at various locations in transport and processing. It can be caused by polluted water, which can leak into the soil where fruit and vegetables are grown ( 11 ). It can be caused by dirty tools during processing or unhygienic food preparation methods. Especially green leafy vegetables and lettuce are very risky because they are often eaten raw ( 12). 85% of the outbreaks of food poisoning – caused by green vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce and spinach – have been found in the US between 1973 and 2012 to lead to food preparation in a restaurant or catering company ( 13 ). To minimize the risk, always wash your lettuce before eating. Do not buy mixed lettuce bags with rotting, wet leaves and avoid pre-prepared salads that are stored at room temperature.
In short: Vegetables and lettuce often contain harmful bacteria such as E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria. To reduce the risk, you should wash vegetables and lettuce well and only buy pre-packed fresh salads that have been kept refrigerated.
3. Fish and shellfish
Fish and shellfish are a common source of food poisoning. There is a big chance that fish that are not kept at the right temperature become contaminated with histamine, a toxin produced by bacteria in fish. Histamine is not destroyed at normal boiling temperatures and results in a type of food poisoning called histamine intoxication or scombroid intoxication, to the fish species of the family scombridae, such as tuna and mackerel, where this poisoning sometimes occurs. It causes a series of symptoms, such as nausea, tightness and swelling of the face and tongue ( 14 , 15)). Another type of fish food poisoning is ciguatera intoxication or CFP (ciguatera food poisoning). This is caused by a toxin called ciguatoxine, which is often found in warm, tropical waters. It is estimated that every year at least 10,000 – 50,000 people living or staying in tropical areas receive CFP. Like histamine, it is not broken down at normal cooking temperatures, so the harmful substance is still in it after boiling ( 16 ). Shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops can also pose a risk to food poisoning. Algae that are eaten by the shellfish produce all kinds of toxins and they can accumulate in the flesh of the shellfish, which poses a danger to people who eat the animals ( 17). Shellfish bought in the store are usually safe to eat. But if they are caught in areas where water quality is not controlled, it can be unsafe due to contamination from sewers, storm water drainage and septic tanks. To reduce the risk, you can get the best seafood from the store and make sure you keep it chilled or frozen before you cook it. Also make sure that the fish is completely cooked and cook mussels and oysters until the shells open. Discard the shells that do not open.
In short: Fish and shellfish are a common source of food poisoning due to the presence of histamine and toxins. To reduce the risk, you can buy seafood best in a store and keep it refrigerated before use.
Rice is one of the oldest cereals and it is a staple food for more than half of the world’s population. But when it comes to food poisoning, it is a risky food. Uncooked rice may contain traces of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that produces toxins that can cause food poisoning. The spores of the bacterium can remain alive under dry conditions; for example, they can be in a pack of uncooked rice in your kitchen cupboard. They can also survive the cooking process ( 18). When boiled rice is kept at room temperature, these spores can grow into bacteria that feel at home in the warm, humid environment and multiply. The longer you store the rice at room temperature, the more likely it is that you will not be able to eat it safely anymore ( 19 ).
In short: Rice is a high-risk food because of the Bacillus cereus. Traces of this bacterium can sit in uncooked rice and they can grow into bacteria again and multiply after cooking. To reduce that chance, you should eat the rice as soon as possible after cooking and put leftovers in the fridge.
5. Meat products
Meat such as ham, bacon, salami and sausage can be a source of food poisoning. At various times during the preparation and processing process, pathogenic bacteria can enter, such as Listeria and Staphylococcus aureus. The contamination can also be transferred directly through contact with contaminated raw meat or poor hygiene of employees during preparation, poor cleaning or cross-contamination of dirty tools such as the knives in cutting machines ( 20 , 21 ). The reported quantities of Listeria in sliced roast beef, turkey, chicken, ham and pâté range from 0-6% ( 22 , 23 , 24 , 25).). Of all mortality caused by Listeria contamination of meat products, 83% was caused by meat products that were cut and packaged in the shop, while the other 17% was caused by pre-packaged meat products ( 26 ). It is important to note that all meat carries a risk of food poisoning if it is not cooked properly or is stored correctly. Hot dogs, minced meat, sausages and ham must be cooked through and must be eaten immediately after preparation. Cut meat products must be kept in the refrigerator until they are used.
In short: Meat products such as ham, salami and sausage can be contaminated with bacteria that cause food poisoning. It is important to keep meat products in the refrigerator and to cook all meat well before eating.
6. Unpasteurized dairy
Pasteurisation is the process of heating a liquid or foodstuff to kill harmful micro-organisms. Food manufacturers pasteurize dairy products such as milk and cheese to make them safer for consumption. By pasteurizing, harmful bacteria and parasites such as Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella are killed. In 20 states in the USA, the sale of unpasteurized milk and milk products is even banned ( 27). In the Netherlands too, raw, unpasteurised milk can not be sold in the shop; however, it can be sold directly by farmers. However, fermented products made from raw milk with lactic acid may be sold in shops, such as kefir and yoghurt. Between 1993 and 2006 there were more than 1500 cases of food poisoning in the US, 202 hospitalizations and two deaths, due to drinking milk or eating cheese from unpasteurized milk ( 28 ). You run at least 150 times the risk of food poisoning and 13 times the risk of hospitalization by drinking unpasteurized dairy products than from pasteurized dairy products ( 29). To reduce the risk of food poisoning from unpasteurised dairy, it is advisable to purchase pasteurized products. Keep all dairy products below 6 degrees and discard if it is the date ( 30 , 31 ).
In short: In pasteurization, liquids and foods are heated to kill harmful micro-organisms such as bacteria. Drinking and eating unpasteurized dairy products is associated with a high risk of food poisoning.
Although eggs are very nutritious and very versatile, they can also be a source of food poisoning if you eat them raw or not properly cooked. This is due to the Salmonella bacterium that is often found in eggs, both on the scale and inside ( 32 ). In the 70s and 80s of the last century, contaminated eggs were a major source of food poisoning by Salmonella in the US. The good news is that since 1990 improvements have been made in the processing and production of eggs, resulting in fewer outbreaks of poisoning by this bacterium ( 33 ). Yet eggs with Salmonella in the US still cause about 79,000 cases of food poisoning and 30 deaths according to the FDA, the American Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority ( 34). To reduce the risk, do not eat eggs with a broken or dirty scale. Choose as much as possible for pasteurized eggs in recipes that contain raw or very soft boiled eggs.
In short: Raw and too soft boiled eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria. If possible, opt for pasteurized eggs and avoid eggs with a broken or dirty dish.
A number of fruit products such as berries, melons and pre-prepared fruit salads have been linked to food poisoning outbreaks. There is a high risk of food poisoning by the Listeria bacteria in fruit that grows on the ground, such as the cantaloupe, water and honeydew melon. The bacterium grows on the skin and can spread to the flesh ( 35 ). Between 1973 and 2011 there were 34 outbreaks of food poisoning by melons in the US, resulting in 3602 reported cases of illness, 322 hospitalizations and 46 deaths. The cantaloupe accounted for 56% of the outbreaks, watermelon for 38% and honeydew for 6% ( 36). Cantaloupe in particular is risky because the skin is so rough and reticulated, allowing the Listeria and other bacteria to nest. This makes it difficult to completely remove the bacteria, even though the melon is cleaned ( 37 ). Fresh and frozen berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blueberries are also a common source of food poisoning by bacteria and viruses, especially the hepatitis A virus. The main reasons for the contamination include breeding with contaminated water, bad hygiene of the berry pickers and cross-contamination with already infected berries during processing ( 38). Washing fruit before you eat it can reduce the risk, just like cooking. If you eat melon, make sure you wash the peel. Eat fruit as soon as it is cut or put it in the refrigerator. Avoid pre-packed fruit salads that have not been kept refrigerated.
In short: the risk of food poisoning due to fruit is large, especially with melon and berries. Always wash the fruit for consumption and eat freshly cut fruit directly or put it in the refrigerator.
vegetables Raw sprouts such as alfalfa, sunflower seeds, bean sprouts and radish sprouts are considered to be risky when it comes to food poisoning. This is mainly due to the presence of bacteria such as E.coli and Listeria. Seeds must germinate in a moist and nutrient-rich environment in order to grow. These conditions are ideal for rapid growth of bacteria. From 1998 to 2010 there were 33 outbreaks of food poisoning in the US caused by seed and bean germs, affecting 1330 people ( 39 ). In 2014, germinated beans contaminated with Salmonella caused food poisoning in 115 people, of whom a quarter had to be hospitalized ( 40). The FDA advises pregnant women not to eat this kind of raw germs because they are extra vulnerable to the effects of harmful bacteria ( 41 ). Fortunately, cooking or blanching the sprouts can cause the harmful microorganisms to be killed so that the risk of food poisoning decreases.
In short: Germination takes place under humid and warm conditions, which is an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria. Cooking sprout vegetables can help reduce the risk of food poisoning.
How to limit the risk of food poisoning
Here are a few simple tips to help reduce the risk of food poisoning:
Ensure good hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and warm water before preparing food. Always wash your hands immediately after touching raw meat and poultry.
Avoid cross-contamination: Use separate cutting boards and knives, especially for raw meat and raw chicken and turkey.
Pay close attention to the ‘to use’ date (TGT): For reasons of safety and health, do not eat food after the expiration date. This mainly concerns the TGT date which is on highly perishable products and not so much on the date of the THT (at least sustainable) because that food is less perishable and can still be good for a while after the date, although the quality is less. can become.
Good meat: Make sure that meat is well cooked through-and-through before you eat it.
Wash fresh products: Wash vegetables, lettuce and fruit before you eat them, even if they are pre-packaged.
Keep food at a safe temperature: The ideal temperature for the growth of bacteria is between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius. Leave no leftovers at room temperature but put them in the refrigerator immediately.
In short: There are a number of steps you can take to minimize the chance of food poisoning. Provide good hygiene, check the TGT date, wash fruits and vegetables before eating them and do not store food at a temperature between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius.
Food poisoning is caused by eating food that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses or toxins. There may be a number of symptoms, such as stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, and it can even lead to death. The risk of food poisoning is particularly high in poultry, seafood, meat products, eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, rice, fruit and vegetables, especially if the food is not properly stored, prepared or processed. In order to minimize the risk, you can apply the above-mentioned tips, which will ensure that you work carefully when buying, processing and preparing these foods ( translated with permission ).