We're halfway into 2014, and already there have been nearly 30 recalls by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which monitors meat, poultry, and eggs) and about 125 food-related recalls from the Food and Drug Administration (which monitors everything else). News reports make recalls seem like an alert for violent illnesses to come, but most recalls are a result of mislabeling – like forgetting an ingredient or calling something "gluten free" when it isn't.
There are plenty of recalls related to nasty pathogens in our food, but those typically only severely impact consumers who are more susceptible to foodborne diseases. "As far as microbiological recalls, pay attention to it if you're at more risk," says Lynne McLandsborough, associate professor of food microbiology at University of Massachusetts Amherst. "If you're immunocompromised, if you're elderly, if you're going to be feeding these items to a child, then you should pay attention."
For the average Joe, cooking each meal thoroughly (a challenge with fruits and veggies) is the easiest way to prevent against foodborne illnesses. Here's a round-up of the most dangerous foods out there, and a few tips for how to enjoy them safely.
10. Restaurant Food
Unfortunately, the reason most of us go to restaurants is also the reason why they can be a health problem: someone else is making the food. If the food is improperly stored, handled, or cooked, it can infect diners. The stomach-churning Norovirus has been found to be the most common foodborne disease agent in restaurant food and most of the time the pathogen is spread because an infected person touched the food, often with their bare hands. Aside from the earlier tip about avoiding unpasteurized eggs, diners can also protect themselves by checking out the health grade of the restaurant and making sure hamburgers are cooked to 160°F (no pink in the middle).
Credit: Getty Images