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.
The pasteurization of milk 100 years ago is still heralded by many as a major advancement in food safety. Although there are people who support raw milk, the CDC estimates that the unpasteurized (raw) milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than pasteurized milk. Raw milk can carry Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which is a serious infection that most often affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of listeriosis include muscles aches, headache, and gastrointestinal issues. See our list of five non-dairy milk alternatives.
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