According to a study performed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a list of the 10 riskiest foods regulated by the FDA was published. (Meat, pork and poultry were not included in the study as they are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.) The list may surprise you and may even contain some of your favorite foods.
The list produced by the CSPI in order of hazard are–leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts and berries. According to the CSPI, these foods account for nearly 40 percent of the food borne outbreaks reports between the years 1990 and 2006. The types of illnesses involved include stomach cramps, salmonella poisoning, disability and even death.
What causes these foods to be so dangerous? With leafy greens most of the danger comes from the pre-washed, pre-packaged salad greens that usually come from a variety of sources. One infected item can contaminate a large bunch of greens. Infected salad greens which include iceburg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach and cabbage accounted for 30 percent of the illnesses caused by the top 10.
Eggs, the second most dangerous food on the list, can cause samonella if eaten raw or undercooked. Raw and undercooked eggs used in homemade ice cream accounted for half of the salmonella outbreaks in ice cream.
Potatoes are on the list because they are used to make potato salad, which often contains mayonnaise and eggs which can contaminate the salad if they are not refrigerated.
Fresh tuna is on the list because it can cause scromboid poisoning. Sushi and seared tuna served in restaurants has caused 65 percent of the scromboid poisoning cases reported.
So, what can be done to reduce the illnesses caused by these 10 foods? The FDA has toughened up some standards for such things as eggs, which must now be tested for salmonella poisoning by producers. We as consumers can help prevent contamination by washing foods before serving and making sure not to cross contaminate food preparation surfaces. By using common sense and cleanliness in food preparation, the chances for disease can be greatly reduced.