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Top 10 Riskiest Foods

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It's scary out there. Not in the streets -- we're talking about what's lurking in the fridge.

Luckily, the watch dog group Center for Science in the Public Interest has compiled a list of the top 10 FDA-regulated foods that are most likely to cause food-borne illness.

The 10 Riskiest Foods

LEAFY GREENS

363 outbreaks involving 13,568 reported cases of illness.

Can salad really make you sick? While nutritionists shudder at the thought, it is sadly the case that nutritious greens can also be highly contaminated with pathogens, an agent of disease.

Salads and other food items containing leafy greens -- iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce (immature lettuce or leafy greens), escarole, endive, spring mix, spinach, cabbage, kale, and arugula -- can all be culprits.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

EGGS

352 outbreaks involving 11,163 reported cases of illness.

Often described as a perfect breakfast food, shell eggs are unfortunately among the worst of the FDA Top Ten. The overwhelming majority of illnesses from eggs are associated with salmonella.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

TUNA

268 outbreaks involving 2,341 reported cases of illness.

Some consumers may be familiar with warnings about tuna and methylmercury, but the pathogens that show up in the outbreak data are rarely discussed when it comes to this fish. Toxins in tuna cannot be destroyed by cooking, freezing, smoking, curing, or canning.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

OYSTERS

132 outbreaks involving 3,409 reported cases of illness.

Often considered an expensive delicacy, oysters can ruin more than just a gourmet dinner. Though they comprise a trivial part of the American diet, tainted oysters are the fourth entry in the FDA Top Ten.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

POTATOES

108 outbreaks involving 3,659 reported cases of illness.

One of America's most popular and versatile food items appears in the middle of the FDA Top Ten list. Outbreaks are linked to dishes, like potato salad, that can contain many ingredients.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

CHEESE

83 outbreaks involving 2,761 reported cases of illness.

A perennial favorite among consumers for its variety and versatility -- hard, soft, mild, sharp, melted, and sliced -- cheese products were linked to 83 outbreaks that sickened thousands of consumers since 1990. Salmonella was the most common hazard among cheese products.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

ICE CREAM

74 outbreaks involving 2,594 reported cases of illness.

Can your favorite cold treat really make you sick? Unfortunately, numerous outbreaks documented in the Outbreak Alert! database show that these scoops can occasionally carry a load of dangerous bacteria.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

TOMATOES

31 outbreaks involving 3,292 reported cases of illness.

Reds, rounds, Romas, and grapes: a favorite addition to salads, tomatoes have unfortunately been repeatedly linked to food-borne illness. Although tomatoes may have been wrongly implicated in a sweeping 2008 outbreak (later linked to fresh jalapeno and serrano peppers), tomatoes have caused at least 31 identified outbreaks since 1990.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

SPROUTS

31 outbreaks involving 2,022 reported cases of illness.

The germinating form of seeds and beans, sprouts have become a common food item in grocery stores, salad bars, and Asian dishes. As the popularity of sprouts increases, however, so does the potential for sprout-related illnesses.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

BERRIES

25 outbreaks involving 3,397 reported cases of illness.

The last entry on the FDA Top Ten list may also be the sweetest. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and other berry products have caused 25 outbreaks with more than 3,300 illnesses since 1990.

Center for Science in the Public Interest



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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley October 24, 2009, 5:47 AM

This is terrible that all those are pretty popular foods. I wish you would’ve given more info on what they carry and why.

Kristin October 26, 2009, 6:05 PM

It’s not “terrible” that they’re all popular foods - they cause more outbreaks because they’re popular! Statistics with percentages would be better. EVERYONE eats potatoes, eggs, some kind of greens, tomatoes… so 3000 illnesses is yes, a lot, but the likelihood is probably NOT very high. This is very misleading.

Joe October 27, 2009, 7:19 AM

Sorry folks, not a well done article at all. There’s no detail about the risks, no comparison to other risks, nothing offered at all about what might be done to prevent or avert risks of food borne illness. It reads like a scare hack. As Kristin stated above, they have the highest numbers because they’re consumed the most.

Monica October 28, 2009, 3:56 AM

This is a poor article. I wouldn’t even call it informative…it’s merely labeling foods without giving any background information. Poor journalism… nope, can’t even call it journalism. Make an effort momlogic or prepare to lose visitors to your site!

Monica October 28, 2009, 3:57 AM

This is a poor article. I wouldn’t even call it informative…it’s merely labeling foods without giving any background information. Poor journalism… nope, can’t even call it journalism. Make an effort momlogic or prepare to lose visitors to your site!

truth January 19, 2010, 2:05 PM

This ploy for more page views is annoying, all of this should be on one page so we don’t have to chase it all over the internet for no other reason than to run up somebodies pageview count is sad.


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