Most Likely Foods to Make You Sick

lettuceHealthy Foods May Make You Sick

A watchdog organization called the Center for Science in the Public Interest has released a list of the top ten foods regulated by the FDA that cause food borne illness. Far and away, the winner is leafy green vegetables, causing more than 13,000 diagnosed cases of what is frequently called 'food poisoning' since 1990. And since most cases of food borne illness aren't ever diagnosed or reported, the actual number is likely much, much higher.

Rounding out the list in descending order of illness causation are eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries. What's so disconcerting, of course, about this list is that the majority of these foods would be deemed 'healthy' by most people. So why do these foods harbor more pathogens than others?

Rick points out that the very nature of how many of these foods are grown or produced puts them in contact with potential disease causing organisms. As 'natural' foods (other than the ice cream), they are consequently in contact with nature and its host of residents, some friendly to our gastrointestinal tracts and some not. So what's your best defense?

That old standby, soap and water, should be used copiously. Even washing foods you peel, such as avocados or oranges, before removing the peel is prudent. Don't cut raw meats and fruits or vegetables on the same surface using the same utensils. Refrigerate foods that require it promptly. Don't reuse plates or platters that have had raw meats on them after cooking- either wash them or use another platter.

So in spite of these measures, you develop diarrhea or vomiting after eating something you suspect may have been contaminated. Should you seek medical attention? Only if you have bloody or prolonged diarrhea or you have a high fever. Folks who have immune system compromise may need to be a bit more vigilant, but for most of us, several uncomfortable hours will pass and the episode will be over. And increasingly, oversight measures should help prevent many of these outbreaks. Certainly you should keep the majority of these foods on your 'do eat' list.

Other topics on this week included Using Nontraditional Risk Factors in Coronary Heart Disease Risk Assessment and Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Vaccination Against Pandemic Influenza in Annals of Internal Medicine, and Defibrillator Implantation Early After Myocardial Infarction in NEJM. Until next week, y'all live well.

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