Food poisoning is a relatively common and unpleasant experience. The severity of the illness depends on what contaminated the food. Most often, food poisoning is caused by a bacteria or virus. Luckily, there are precautions we could take to ensure our favorite, healthy foods aren’t getting us sick.
Here are some of the most common healthy foods causing food poisoning and how to prevent it:
Raw and undercooked chicken, turkey, or other poultry is especially dangerous if not handled and cooked properly. The two most common contaminants in poultry are salmonella and campylobacter bacteria often coming in contact with raw meat during processing.
Since these types of bacteria can cause serious illness, it is important chicken and other poultry is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit according to Food Safety.gov. In addition, whenever handling raw poultry make sure to wash and sanitize your hands and any cooking equipment that comes in contact with the meat. This includes utensils, kitchen towels, and even your clothes.
Like poultry, raw and undercooked eggs can be potentially contaminated with salmonella. This bacteria may linger on the shell, egg white, or yolk. A contaminated egg may not look or taste different from a regular egg.
To prevent food poisoning, always buy clean, uncracked eggs and store in a refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Try to avoid a tasting or eating foods with raw or undercooked eggs like cookie dough. Make sure all recipes using eggs are thoroughly cooked to Food Safety.gov’s suggestion of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Bacteria like E. coli can live in the soil harboring these vegetables causing contamination. In addition, during processing and handling, additional risks for contamination are present. Since many vegetables are eaten raw, like salads, the contaminants aren’t cooked off.
Make sure you thoroughly wash your vegetables before enjoying. This will help remove bacteria as well as any lingering pesticides. Some bagged salad products already come rinsed, so check the label. Rewashing them, though, certainly won’t hurt.
This popular side dish can become contaminated with Bacillus cereus–a bacteria present in uncooked rice. Unlike poultry and eggs, however, cooking rice can actually activate the bacteria’s spores. The moist environment of cooked rice provides and excellent breeding ground for the bacteria.
Bacillus cereus quickly multiplies when foods are at room temperature. To prevent food poisoning, make sure cooked rice, and other prepared foods like soups or sauces stay hot (over 140 degrees Fahrenheit) or cold (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Store leftovers in wide, shallow containers and refrigerate as soon as possible.
Even eating healthy has its dangers because of food contamination. By taking the necessary steps and precautions, however, you could enjoy your favorite healthy foods without worry.