For many of us, Labor Day weekend means firing up the grill with friends and family to enjoy one last summer meal together. But unfortunately, some popular barbecue foods could make you seriously sick if you’re not careful. In fact, there are four foods in particular that present the most imminent health risks to those who eat them. Read on to discover which popular items are most likely to give you food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
RELATED: If You’re Over 65, Never Eat These 4 Foods, CDC Warns.
Raw and undercooked meat and seafood
Your preference for a raw burger or steak could be putting you in harm’s way, according to the CDC. Raw meat products can harbor Yersinia bacteria, which causes approximately 117,000 infections and 35 deaths in the U.S. annually; E. coli, which leads to life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome in up to 10 percent of infections; and Salmonella, which is associated with 1.35 million stateside infections and 420 U.S. deaths per year.
The CDC also reports that most raw poultry products are contaminated with Campylobacter, a type of bacteria that is associated with approximately 1.5 million illnesses in the U.S. each year. They may also be contaminated with Clostridium perfringens, a type of bacteria that causes illness in approximately 1 million U.S. residents each year; and Salmonella, as well as other types of bacteria.
Raw seafood and shellfish are most commonly associated with Salmonella and Vibrio vulnificus, the latter of which is most frequent in oysters and is associated with 80,000 infections and 100 deaths in the U.S. each year. Vibrio vulnificus wound infections (when a wound comes into contact with raw or undercooked seafood, its juices, or drippings) result in the death of approximately 20 percent of those infected, often within days of first becoming sick.
To protect yourself, the CDC recommends cooking ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; cooking ground and fresh poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit; cooking fresh beef, veal, and lamb to 145 degrees Fahrenheit; cooking fresh pork to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; and heating pre-cooked pork to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Seafood should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and should be reheated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Fruits and vegetables
While fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, they are also a major source of food poisoning from E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.
To protect yourself, the CDC recommends washing or scrubbing fruits and vegetables with running water and only peeling them once they’ve been washed to avoid contaminating their flesh with bacteria from their peels.
Fruits and vegetables should also be refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder within two hours of preparation, or one hour if it’s over 90 degrees outside.
Raw milk products
Though some people claim that raw milk products provide certain health benefits, experts say otherwise.
“None of the claims made by the raw milk advocates that we have examined…can withstand scientific scrutiny,” the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) explains.
In fact, the CDC notes that raw milk and products made from raw milk are frequently contaminated with Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella, all of which can cause serious illness. To play it safe, the CDC cautions against drinking or eating any raw milk products and sticking to those made with pasteurized milk instead.
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Your preference for runny eggs could be putting your health at risk. Eggs may be contaminated with Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning and may lead to more serious illness or even death.
To protect yourself, the CDC recommends keeping eggs refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, using pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for raw or lightly cooked eggs, cooking egg dishes to a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and refrigerating eggs or any foods that have eggs in them within two hours of preparing them or one hour on a day that’s 90 degrees or above. The CDC notes that purchasing exclusively pasteurized eggs may help reduce your risk of illness, as well.
RELATED: If You’re Over 65, Don’t Eat This One Kind of Meat Right Now, CDC Warns.