ORLANDO, Fla. – About 48 million Americans get sick from E. coli, salmonella, and listeria in foods each year.
Nearly 3,000 people die from foodborne illnesses annually, and almost 130,000 are hospitalized.
You need it to survive, but food can sometimes make you sick.
Researchers at Consumer Reports recently ranked foods based on how many outbreaks, deaths, and illnesses they caused. They found some foods were riskier to eat than others.
The worst offender was leafy greens. Foods like lettuces, kale, and arugula were responsible for 50 outbreaks and 11 deaths between 2017 and 2022. These veggies tend to get contaminated by dirty irrigation water.
“It’s best if you are able to wash your fruits and vegetables,” Shante Jeune, a registered dietician at the University of Central Florida said.
Contaminated deli meats and cheeses were also found to cause outbreaks of listeria. Ninety percent of people infected with listeria end up in the hospital. Other meats like ground beef, chicken, and turkey can also make you sick.
“Meats, especially chicken, is important to fully cook through. In beef, they have specific requirements, 150 degrees or higher to maintain healthy uncontaminated foods,” Jeune said.
Some other foods that made the list were fruits like papaya, peaches, and cantaloups. Surprisingly, onions were the fourth most likely food to make someone ill. Experts say avoid purchasing bruised onions, as they allow bacteria to enter more easily.
Flour used in cookie and brownie mixes and premade cake batter also made the list.
Experts say while wheat is growing in the field, bacteria can get onto the grain surface through contaminated water or wild animal droppings. When flour is cooked before consumption, the bacteria are killed. Avoid eating raw dough or batter to limit your risk.