Where’s the Beef? 10 Unexpectedly Risky Foods

Radha Chitale reports for the ABC News Medical Unit:

The following is a list of foods compiled by the CSPI as some of the riskiest when it comes to potential contamination.

Leafy Greens

“No single USDA product has caused as many outbreaks as leafy greens,” Klein said.

While this may seem fantastic in light of how the number of meat-related outbreaks far outstrips any other food product, Klein pointed out that in many cases the food source of the outbreak remains unclear. For example, food poisoning following a hamburger lunch could be a result of the meat patty, contaminated lettuce or rancid mayonnaise.

The CSPI reported that leafy greens, including spinach, lettuce and cabbage, were responsible for 363 outbreaks between 1990 and 2006 and caused 13,568 cases of illness.

Bagged spinach contaminated with E. coli raised concerns in 2006 after a number of deaths and illness were reported following consumption, but leafy greens are susceptible to contamination by salmonella as well.

Greens may become contaminated, according to the report, upon contact with animals or manure and through poor handling.

“One contaminated head of lettuce or spinach thrown into a washing tank sees the pathogen in the wash water,” Klein said. “And that spreads to an entire day’s production of leafy greens.”


The CSPI reported 352 outbreaks involving 11,163 cases of illness due to eggs contaminated primarily with salmonella, a bacteria that often causes diarrhea.

If eggs are not contaminated with salmonella before it is formed in a chicken, then undercooking, allowing the eggs to sit at room temperature, or cross contamination in the home or in a restaurant are a few of the major ways in which eggs can cause illness, according to Keith-Thomas Ayoob, an associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

The report noted that prisons, restaurants and catered events were a few of the primary egg-related illness offenders.

Check the ABC story for the full list.


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4 Comments on "Where’s the Beef? 10 Unexpectedly Risky Foods"

  1. bedleysmutler | Oct 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm |

    I thought there was no danger with eggs unless the shell was cracked or broken some time before eating.

    • Salmonella is inside a small number of eggs (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/salm…). However, eggs are the most common source of salmonella and salmonella is one of the most common food borne illnesses. To avoid salmonella, you can completely cook your eggs or use pasteurized liquid or shell eggs.

      • bedleysmutler | Oct 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm |

        ¿Huevos de Shell? Qué hace ese medio. What are “shell eggs” as
        compared with, well, eggs in a shell?

  2. Anonymous | Oct 7, 2009 at 2:48 am |

    ¿Huevos de Shell? Qué hace ese medio. What are “shell eggs” as
    compared with, well, eggs in a shell?

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