Chances are that you or someone you know has gotten sick from food. Every year, one in six American's get a food-borne illness. Some times it can be tricky to correctly identify the food culprit. Normally raw foods of animal origin are most likely to be contaminated. This could be something like a raw meat, poultry, raw eggs, unpasteurized milk or raw seafood.
I wanted to touch on some basics of food-borne illness, what foods to watch out for and how to properly handle these food items. If you think that you have gotten a food-borne illness you might want to think about a food item that has been mixed together. For example - bulk raw milk, pooled raw egg or ground beef are food items that are coming from multiple animals and being combined into one product that you are purchasing. This means that it is more challenging to pin point the infected or sick animal in food chain. If you think about that ground beef is containing meat from hundreds of cows or a single restaurant omelet may contain eggs from hundreds of chicken (if it is a liquid egg product). There are lots of places in this food chain where contamination could have occurred.
Commonly we are hearing about fruits and vegetables carrying food-borne illness. These food items do not normally have these organisms in them, but when they are transported or how they are grown could influence their exposure to bacteria/other organisms. The only way to help prevent getting a food-borne illness from your produce is to make sure you wash it well. Now this may not get rid of all the contamination, but it is what we (as consumers) can do to minimize our risk of getting sick.
So now that you are terrified to eat animal products and produce you are probably thinking ... what is safe to eat? Well all of these food items can be safe if you take the time to prepare them in a safe manner. Make sure your animal products are cooked the appropriate temperatures (160F for beef/poultry and 145F for fish), you drink only pasteurized milk and you avoid raw shellfish. For produce, wash it well when you get home/before using (even if the label says pre-washed).
For more information on food-borne illness check out the following links: