Verda Vivo

Verda Vivo means “Green Life” in the universal language of Esperanto.

6 Dirtiest Foods in America September 30, 2008

An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne disease or food poisoning occur each year in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of these cases are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. 

Most of these infections are undiagnosed and unreported. Some cases are more serious. The CDC estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases each year. More than 250 different foodborne diseases have been described. Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

The most commonly recognized foodborne infections are those caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli, and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, also known as the Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses. 

The Food and Drug Administration estimates that 2-3% of all foodborne illnesses lead to secondary long-term illnesses. For example, certain strains of E. coli can cause kidney failure in young children and infants; Salmonella can lead to reactive arthritis and serious infections; Listeria can cause meningitis and stillbirths; and Campylobacter may be the most common precipitating factor for Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Since “Man does not live by bread alone”, how can you avoid getting food poisoning? Here is a list of the foods most likely to make you sick, according to the CDC.

  1. Raw Shellfish
    Oysters and other filter feeding shellfish can concentrate Vibrio bacteria that are naturally present in sea water, or other microbes that are present in human sewage dumped into the sea. A large number of studies have detected norovirus in oysters. Additionally, infected fishermen have contaminated oysters as they harvested them. Sounds like an aphrodisiac to me.
  2. Ground Beef
    A single hamburger may contain meat from hundreds of animals. When meat is ground, more of the meat is exposed to the harmful bacteria. According to the USDA, pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria, and Staph cause illness and can be present in your meat. These harmful bacteria cannot be seen or smelled. Do you want cheese with that burger?
  3. Alfalfa Sprouts
    The conditions under which sprouts are grown are ideal for growing microbes as well as sprouts. That means that a few bacteria present on the seeds can grow to high numbers of pathogens on the sprouts.
  4. Milk
    Each year, people become ill from drinking raw milk and eating foods made from raw dairy products. Unlike most of the milk, cheese, and dairy products sold in the United States, raw milk and raw dairy products have not been heat treated or pasteurized to kill germs. Raw milk and raw dairy products may carry many types of disease-causing germs such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Yersinia, and Brucella. My brother-in-law described working in a dairy as a young man when the milking machine fell into cow manure (still sucking away). When he said they simply plugged it back onto the cow’s udder, I got a little queasy. Got raw milk?
  5. Raw Eggs
    Bacteria can be on the outside of a shell egg. That’s because the egg exits the hen’s body through the same passageway as feces is excreted. That’s why eggs are washed and sanitized at the processing plant. Bacteria can be inside an uncracked, whole egg. Contamination of eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen’s ovary or oviduct before the shell forms around the yolk and white. Salmonella doesn’t make the hen sick. It is also possible for eggs to become infected by fecal contamination through the pores of the shells after they’re laid.
  6. Poultry
    The following are bacteria associated with chicken:

    • Enteritidis may be found in the intestinal tracts of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats and other warm-blooded animals. This strain is only one of about 2,000 kinds of Salmonella bacteria; it is often associated with poultry and shell eggs.
    • Staph can be carried on human hands, in nasal passages, or in throats. The bacteria are found in foods made by hand and improperly refrigerated, such as chicken salad.
    • Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans. Preventing cross- contamination and using proper cooking methods reduces infection by this bacterium.
    • Listeria was recognized as causing human foodborne illness in 1981. It is destroyed by cooking, but a cooked product can be contaminated by poor personal hygiene (in other words, wash your hands).

You can reduce your risk for foodborne illness by following safe food-handling recommendations and by avoiding consumption of unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked oysters, eggs, or ground beef, and undercooked poultry. Additional information on food safety is available at http://www.foodsafety.gov/.

Resources:

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16 Responses to “6 Dirtiest Foods in America”

  1. What is your view on eating bat (yes, the furry flying fellows)? I’ve heard it can be pretty bad for you?

  2. Verda Vivo Says:

    After reading about the woman in eastern Iowa who had to undergo rabies treatment after a bat was accidentally brewed into her morning coffee, I think I’ll pass. ~ Daryl

    http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080926/NEWS/709269945&SearchID=73331529930155

  3. Edouard Says:

    Who would think about eating bats… :)

    Otherwise, a once again good article Daryl. It tell us once again that we are what we eat…

    On burgers, yes, there can be many different animals’ in just one, that’s why we have to take real steaks as much as we can.

    On milk, being a huge consumer, I often have access to product direct from the farm. (my grand parents and uncles are farmers ^^)

    So, each and every time we pasteurize it ourselves. Just let the milk go to a certain temperature ( I think it’s 100°C or 40°F… ) to kill most if not all bacterias and their likes.

    Keep it up Daryl

  4. wavemaker2 Says:

    Oh Yea!! I know about the (CDC)… It’s getting so bad that you have to wash and than re-wash ALL that you eat.. And REALLY watch the meat!! OMGEEZ!!! They diffently need to crack down on the law’s ALOT more than what they have been doing!! I’m scared to eat anymore, which I could stand too lose a cuple of lbs. anyway… LOL But that’s beside’s the point!! Great Subject!! til l8er
    wavemaker2.wordpress.com

  5. Ewww … but would a food’s being organic make a difference? Many of these seem to be issues in how the food is handled.

  6. Edouard Says:

    that’s the problem Cheap Like Me…

    Even if if the food is organic it doesn’t matter on these issues. except for the burgers : a steak is better.

    Anyway, please bear (?) in mind that our life expectancy has blown up the roof for the past 50 years, it is also because we eat better. so, yeah, problems still exist, but less than before. At least I think.

    Life expectancy could continue to increase IF we solved our environmental problems. otherwise, it’s gonna DROP !

    What do you think about that Daryl ? (and the others commentators? of course)

  7. Check out the website http://www.rawoysteralert.com. I was shocked to learn that several individuals die each year from the consumption of raw oysters that are contaminated with naturally occurring Vibrio bacteria. Some gulf states have chosen to not take action in order to make raw oysters safe for ALL consumers.

    Several years ago, the state of California made a requirement that all imported raw oysters must be pasteurized and since that requirement was put into place there have been NO FURTHER DEATHS in that state.

    In order to affect change, consumers need to only accept oysters that are SAFE through post harvest processing or through being cooked. Consumer demand drives the market and the industry would be forced to provide oysters that did not lead to unnecessary deaths.

    The website http://www.rawoysteralert.com has a wealth of information available and also explains how you can help in making the consumption of oysters safe for everyone.

  8. Verda Vivo Says:

    Raw Oyster Alert – Thanks for the link to http://www.rawoysteralert.com. I love raw oysters but haven’t eaten one in a very long time. Anyone considering eating raw oysters needs to visit the website – the pictures alone are worth a thousand words. ~ Daryl

  9. Verda Vivo Says:

    Cheap Like Me and Edouard – You are correct, organic in this case really doesn’t do much to mitigate the introduction of bacteria and viruses when handled. I replaced the reference to organic with a paragraph about avoiding food poisoning, including a link to food safety information. Thanks for the feedback! ~ Daryl

  10. I s’pose one area where organic does matter is that much? all? of the organic industry does have higher reporting requirements, which keep some? all? organic producers more accountable as well as more able to track some breakouts of disease or other problems.

  11. [...] comes to the dangers of our mass-production society. Verda Vivo recently published a post about the 6 Dirtiest Foods – those most likely to contain contamination. Five of the six are animal products. A phrase [...]

  12. southstep의 생각…

    6 Dirtiest Foods in America « Verda Vivo…

  13. Verda Vivo Says:

    Cheap Like Me, I’d like to think that organic might mean more oversight but if animal manure is used for fertilizer, there’s a risk. I used to use manure in my garden from my mom’s horses after it “cooked” for a year or more and never had a problem. Of course, she didn’t feed her horses animal by-products nor did she load them up on antibiotics and hormones. ~ Daryl

  14. Your blog is very informative. Thanks for sharing it with us. I am aware that raw foods and unpasteurized milk can give you a higher risk for food borne illness. I am surprise with the ground beef, thank God I am not a fan of burgers.

    Let’s be extra careful with our health.

  15. Lisa Says:

    I disagree with the CDC on half the list. Ground beef, chicken and even raw milk are probably better if purchased locally. But I’ll take raw milk anyday over the homogenized, pastuerized crap. My family has been drinking raw milk now for over 4 years and my kids are the healthiest they’ve ever been.

  16. Verda Vivo Says:

    Lisa, If you know where the food comes from and how it’s been handled then you are better off all around. To me, that’s a lot different than what comes from factory farms. ~ Daryl


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