You know what’s scarier than watching The Exorcist alone in the dark on Friday the 13th, and there’s a full moon?…the common foods that can kill you. Don’t scoff now. When you think about it, we put a huge amount of trust in food, making it so that whatever it is you happen to be taking a bite of can easily turn around and bite ya right back. Even when you exclude the obvious risk of edible allergens, food is a dangerous mistress that can find a disturbing number of ways to smite people with things other than cardiovascular and weight related issues. Numbers vary, but the US seems to have between 3,000 to 5,000 food-related deaths each year from various kinds of food poisoning. While that might not sound like an epidemic, it’s estimated that 1 in 6 people catch a food born illness that may result in needing medical treatment. While people often jump to the conclusion that most of these illnesses are caused by cliche things like shellfish or exotic foods, the truth is the real culprits are the common ones that we typically don’t suspect. Here are a few common foods that can kill you that you should watch out for.
Veggie seems to be the heavyweight champions of food poisoning. Typically when you hear about food poisoning you thinks of foods like shellfish, but things like sprouts and leafy greens cause damage much more frequently. It seems that every other year there’s a recall of veggies from grocery stores due to them being contaminated and causing a food poisoning outbreak. One reason that they are such the problem is that they are typically eaten raw as well as the fact that they are a veggie that can’t be peeled to remove the surface where bacteria lives. Disturbingly, washing them offers no protection since it can be the cleaning process that contaminates them in the first place.
This particular lean meat is a haven for various forms of bacteria, that is easily spread via physical contact, which means extra care needs to be taken. Due to chicken’s low-calorie content and high amounts of protein, it’s a favorite for those whom are dieting or are highly conscious about the foods they eat. Luckily, when chicken is cooked thoroughly (a meat thermometer is advisable) you eliminate the risk of food-born illnesses, but there is still your kitchen itself that you need to be cautious of. It’s important to use antibacterial cleaners on all the counters and anything else that you had contact with to prevent infection.
Here is a chicken byproduct that can easily cause problems when consumed raw (but even cooked eggs still have some risk) and is food that can kill you. Though most turn up their noses to the concept, many are still willing to take the risk or eating raw eggs due to the large amounts of protein and other nutrients they provide. The main bacteria in eggs that cause food poisoning is Salmonella. It seems that chicken delights in being food that can kill you so watch out!
It’s hard to believe, but even dairy is a food that can kill you and is the primary cause of listeria poisoning. Soft cheeses and other products account for over half of these outbreaks every year, making it a frequent food that is recalled from grocery stores. Listeria can have the standard food poisoning symptoms, may cause miscarriages and has a 30% mortality rate. Another problem is that it doesn’t always cause outbreaks due to the distribution of a batch that was contaminated during production. There are also plenty of poisonings that occur despite the fact that the rest of the of the shipment that they were made with are completely clean. Part of the reason that dairy products are such a problem is that many products have at least some raw milk added during production.
Shellfish aren’t the only type of aquatic foods that can kill you. Tuna once dead and reaches a temperature of 40 degrees F. or higher, immediately starts producing a histamine called scombrotoxin at an astronomical rate. This is more dangerous than bacteria because it can’t be killed off even after being thoroughly cooked. The short trip from the supermarket to your refrigerator can be an adequate amount of time for tuna to become saturated with enough scombrotoxin to make you sick.
Keep in mind that this list isn’t meant to scare you out of ever eating these foods again. All foods have some risks and it’s just important to proceed with caution so you don’t dismiss the idea of poisoning if you develop symptoms and decline seeking treatment. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t care if it’s deadlier than Jason Vorhees himself, I am not giving up cookie dough ice cream for anything.
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