By Marie Dufour, RD – At first, I thought it was a take on Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Then, I realized that I had read it wrong. The headline was GREENS, EGGS, and TUNA… Among the Riskiest Foods in America.
Now, you’d tell me wild mushrooms or puffer fish, my ears would perk up and I’d put down my fork. I’d certainly expect to inspect oysters and clams for norovirus and I’d make sure not to eat shellfish between the months of May and September. I might question my sushi server on the freshness of tuna, afraid of scrombotoxin contamination. But the news of potatoes and berries being dangerous to my health had me a bit puzzled. What was that FDA report about?
On the heels of the Food Safety Enhancement Act passed last July, the Centers for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) just released a food safety report. How common is food-borne illness? One in 3,000 to 4,000 meals, with the most common pathogens being Norovirus, E.coli, Salmonella and scrombotoxin. The ten top foods that made the naughty list are: leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries, accounting for nearly 40% of all outbreaks among FDA-regulated foods.
BUT, what is not on the list is what the FDA does not regulate: Meat products. While the media scare the public away from healthy foods by labeling them “RISKY,” they blissfully ignore the multiple recalls of beef and meat products, contaminated by the deadly E-coli.O157:H7.
The risks for food contamination are well known to food producers, processors, restaurateurs and other foodservice professionals. HACCP protocols have long been in place to regulate provisioning, storing, cooking, and serving foods. Standards have been developed and are followed in order to avoid time-temperature abuses. This new FDA rule focuses on high-volume food processors (i.e. lettuce farms) to design and implement food safety plans. It’s a good thing for the consumer. You may feel that you’re doing your body a favor by purchasing the expensive bag of “organic greens,” but are just as much at risk for E. coli, and Salmonella as if you purchased a regular lettuce (and even more at risk as if you grew that lettuce yourself, I might add.)
How do we keep our foods safe in the home? FIGHT BAC! Store food at the right temperature, cook it thoroughly, and, for crying out lout, don’t let that chicken thaw on the countertop! See more tips at Fight Bac!