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10 Most Dangerous Foods based on Recalls

Update Date: Sep 02, 2014 02:59 PM EDT

Food recalls occur due to contamination that can negatively affect people's health. This year so far, the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has dealt with at least 100 food-related recalls. For certain vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, contaminated food can lead to life-threatening situations. In order to reduce one's risk, it is important to handle food properly and cook it thoroughly.

Here are 10 of the most dangerous foods:

1. Beef

Beef was involved in two major recalls in 2014. The first one occurred in May when the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, MI voluntarily recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground meat due to Escherichia coli (E. coli). The second recall involved Petaluma, which is a Californian Rancho Feeding Corporation. The company had to recall nearly nine million pounds of beef and veal after it was discovered that the company had processed diseased animals that were not inspected.

2. Chicken

Chicken is often the subject of recalls. In this year so far, roughly 1.5 million pounds of chicken have been recalled due to bacterial infections caused by salmonella and campylobacter. These infections can become very serious. Salmonella kills around 450 people per year whereas the annual death toll for campylobacter is around 76.

3. Sprouts

Out of the vegetable category, sprouts are some of the most potentially dangerous products. Sprouts tend to have a higher risk of contamination because they are grown in conditions that are also ideal for bacteria growth. When sprout seeds get infected, the bacteria can stick to the roots and grow into large numbers by the time the sprouts are fully-grown and ready to harvest. Health experts recommend people at risk of listeria infections, such as pregnant women to avoid sprouts in general.

4. Spices

Even though recalls surrounding spices are not as common, these recalls are important to know. In this year alone, there have been almost 12 spice recalls and for each one, people are at risk of getting salmonella.

5. Eggs

When it comes to food contamination, many people know that eggs could be the source of a salmonella outbreak. In order to prevent getting sick, people should avoid eating food with raw eggs in it, such as cookie dough.

6. Milk

Even though raw milk has not been linked to causing food infections recently, several studies have found that raw milk contains more bacteria than pasteurized milk. The bacteria that can be found in this product include salmonella, E. coli and listeria. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that raw milk is 150 times more likely to be lead to foodborne illness.

7. Shellfish

In certain parts of the country, raw oysters are a staple. However, since shellfish are filter-feeders, they tend to gather pathogens from their environment, which can cause vibrio infection. This type of infection leads to diarrhea, septicemia and wound infections.

8. Fruit

Fruits tend to become contaminated based on how they are handled and processed. For example, companies that use dirty water or fresh manure increase risk of contamination. Since fruits are generally eaten raw, there is not much that people can do to prevent getting an illness if the fruit is contaminated. However, washing fruits thoroughly is still an important step.

9. Allergenic foods

Even though people often associate recalls to contamination, many recalls occur due to mislabeling. Companies that mislabel foods that are highly allergenic must issue recalls before the products cause life-threatening allergic reactions.

10. Restaurant foods

Even though restaurants are supposed to pass health inspections, many foodborne illnesses start in restaurants. Restaurants that do not follow safe food handling and cooking recommendations place their customers at a greater risk of falling ill.

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