Food poisoning affects millions of people worldwide – the latest estimates from the food safety council suggest there are around 4.1 million cases each year. In serious cases, food poisoning can cause severe illness or even death and a sound understanding of food safety is essential if these incidences are to be avoided.

Which foods are most likely to cause food poisoning?

There are various reasons that food poisoning happens, from not washing veggies properly to eating food that has begun to harbour harmful bacteria. We know that some foods are more prone to this type of bacterial growth than others, so knowing which type of food poses particular risk means that appropriate precautions can be applied.

Seven foods that are most likely to cause food poisoning

1. Poultry

When it comes to food handling, raw poultry poses one of the biggest risks of food poisoning. It can harbour campylobacter and salmonella, both of which can make someone very ill, even in small amounts.

The best way to ensure these bacteria don’t cause sickness is to make sure poultry is fully cooked before consumption. It’s also vital to take care about transference during preparation – be sure to wash your hands and all utensils that the raw poultry touches and remember that washing poultry before use just increases the risk of bacteria transfer.

2. Eggs

Eggs are a worldwide staple and offer a unique package of vitamins and goodness. Unfortunately, they also harbour salmonella bacteria, which can be found in the shell, yolk or white of the egg. Avoid recipes with raw or undercooked eggs and resist the temptation to have a sneaky taste of the cake batter while you’re baking.

With sensible food handling, eggs can be enjoyed safely.

• Store at below 5°c
• Be sure eggs are clean when you buy them
• Take care that the yolk or white doesn’t come into contact with the shell when cracking

These guidelines are especially important for people who will experience severe impact from food poisoning, including older people, pregnant women or those who are immuno-compromised.

3. Greens and veggies

Raw greens and veggies are incredibly good for you – unless they transmit unwelcome bacteria. E-coli lives in soil and can contaminate your tasty greens. There’s also a risk of contamination from water and wandering animals.

Fortunately, minimising the risk from greens and veggies is pretty straightforward. Simply wash the food thoroughly under clean, running water before you eat it and any risk is minimised.

4. Cheese

Cheese is a high-risk food for several groups and pregnant women should be particularly careful when it comes to all soft cheeses such as feta or ricotta as well as brie and camembert.

Cheese also carries a bacteria called Staphylococcus which is heat resistant so can’t be killed by cooking. The best way to avoid the growth of this type of bacteria is to practice meticulous food safety. Ensure the cheese is stored at below 5° c and always wash your hands and any utensils that have touched the cheese.

5. Seafood

Contaminated seafood can cause a range of illnesses including Scromboid poisoning and Ciguatera poisoning. Shellfish also have the capacity to deliver harmful toxins to the body and cause neurotoxic, amnestic, or paralytic poisoning. These toxins are heat stable, so they are not destroyed by cooking.

Food poisoning from seafood can be avoided by taking great care regarding storage. Seafood must be stored in the coldest part of the fridge, at a temperature of between 0° and 4°c and it’s important to keep it covered.

6. Rice

Storing rice incorrectly can cause the growth of bacillus cereus. Cooked rice should be stored in the fridge at a temperature below 5°c and you should take extra care if the rice dish includes proteins like pork, poultry, or egg.

7. Meat

All meat poses a risk of food poisoning if it’s not stored properly. Deli type meats such as salami or cold cuts need particular care because they’re not cooked before consumption.

The main contaminant of meat is Listeria – fortunately, this bacteria is destroyed by heat. Take care to cook things like bacon to a temperature of at least 75°c for three minutes before tucking in, and always store all types of meat at a temperature below 5ׄ°c.

Understanding food safety

Understanding the basics of food safety will go a long way to keeping your consumers safe. At the Australian Institute of Accreditation, we offer a range of food safety courses that will help you and your team understand and adopt best practices when it comes to food handling. To find out more, just get in touch using our contact form, drop us a message on Facebook or send an SMS to 0429 544 170. We also accept good old fashioned voice calls on 1300 662 750, so don’t delay – get started on your journey to exemplary food safety today.