The 10 Dirty, Poopy Foods You’re (Certainly) Eating

This is a summary of a Men’s Health article about ten common foods we eat that are often contaminated with scary sounding bacteria and pesticides that can make us sick. The list: Chicken, ground beef/turkey, oysters, eggs, cantaloupe, peaches, lettuce, cold cuts and scallions.  Learn what to do.

IF YOU cruise around the Net and have a health bent, you probably often spy what I’ll refer to here as “food by the numbers”: Ten best antioxidant foods, five best foods for energy, or my post, The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 – Food to Live By.

So, like you might, my eye turned to the Men’s Health article “The Ten Dirtiest Foods You’re Eating”, about which I’d like to explore with you.

In an increasingly dirty world… what with mechanized industrial farming, millions of cattle pooping everywhere, pesticides, chemical toxin cocktails and the like, we need to be very vigilant about what we ingest.

Of course, just look around at your fellow (wo)man and you’ll note that most of us aren’t – vigilant that is; rather, we tend to do what’s cheapest, easiest and most convenient.  Health be damned.  There’s a pill to fix anything, right?

I’ll take my “pill” in the form of natural food (well, and a ton of supplements, but that doesn’t count here), and thus need to distinguish between foods that are safe to eat and those that I need to be vigilant about.

That said, let’s dive into a summary of the dirty foods referenced above with my hearty suggestion that you go to the original article to read more about those foods below that you regularly eat.

1. Chicken. Consumers Reports says that 42 percent were infected by Campylobacter jejuni, and 12 percent by Salmonella enteritidis. Buy “free range” and rinse the bird in the sink before placing it in some cooking apparatus.

2. Ground Beef. USDA inspections find Staphylococcus in 30 percent, and Listeria monocytogenes in 12 percent.   Here’s the fine recommendation given to ameliorate this problem – buy the irradiated variety, it’s suggested (and I’m happy I don’t eat ground beef cause who wants to eat irradiated food?). The package will bear the words “treated by irradiation.”  Also you can cook it with oregano. Oregano has antibacterial properties which is why there are oregano supplements, featured in Four Solutions to Antibiotic-resistant Super Bed Bugs.

3. Ground Turkey. According to the USDA, the odds are better than 1 in 4 that your minced gobbler contains Listeria, Campylobacter, Clostridium, or some combination of the three.  Go for the organic turkey.  At home, clean containers that held the turkey in very hot water, serve it at 180 degrees on a clean plate, and wipe spillage with a paper towel rather than a sponge that you’ll reuse.

4. Raw Oysters. Looking for an aphrodisiac?  Perhaps you should look elsewhere. University of Arizona researchers who studied oysters from “certified” safe beds discovered that 9 percent were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.  They also found E. coli in 100 percent of Gulf Coast locations. Solution: eat cooked oysters unless you can verify that the bed from which they were harvested are safe.

5. Eggs. Food poisoning linked to eggs sickens an estimated 660,000 people annually and kills 300. What should egg lovers do? Buy pasteurized eggs, don’t eat them undercooked, keep them in the coldest part of your fridge and wash your hands after handling them.

6. Cantaloupe.  The FDA found that 3.5 percent of the melons tested carried Salmonella and Shigella, the latter a bacteria normally passed person-to-person. Among imported cantaloupe, 7 percent tested positive for both bugs.  Don’t buy dented or bruised cantaloupe, and if you buy pre-cut, be aware that the personnel who cut it often don’t wash their hands.  Scrub it with dish soap and water, using a brush exclusive to this purpose (washing fruits and veggies) so it doesn’t get contaminated from other uses.

7. Peaches.  These luscious, sweet things are doused with chemicals, earning them the Consumer Union’s highest rank on an index of pesticide toxicity.  Peaches have good company — apples, grapes, pears, and green beans occupy top spots on the Toxicity Index, too.  Do yourself a favor and buy organic, or at least wash them thoroughly at home.

8. Lettuce. This leafy veggie accounts for 28 percent of reported food-poisoning outbreaks.  The popular pre-packed kind that’s “triple washed” still needs to be washed.

9. Cold Cuts. If you ever visited a slaughter house as I did as a kid, the thought of eating cold cuts and meat in general would leave you cold.  Here’s another reason: Cold cuts have been labeled at “high risk” of causing llisteriosis by a joint team of researchers from the USDA, FDA, and CDC.  Trash whatever’s not eaten within a week, and if you can stand it, slather mustard on the cold cuts, as it can kill 90 percent of three potent pathogens—Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonellabut, it takes 2 hours to do the job, so what the heck.

10. Scallions. These were responsible for a massive hepatitis A outbreak at that Chi-Chi’s in 2003. Dirty scallions have also triggered small hepatitis A outbreaks in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Other bugs messing with scallions include the parasite Cryptosporidium, Shigella, and the ubiquitous Salmonella. Buy refrigerated scallions and at home, rinse away all the dirt.

Thus winds down yet another article about “foods by the numbers”.  Again, if you eat a number of these numbered here, don’t go numb; instead, click over the Men’s Health article and read more about them, and then be sure to take the advice offered to make such foods safer for you and your family.

Last Updated on December 4, 2014 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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