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10 unexpected things that can give you food poisoning

INSIDER logoINSIDER 18/3/2019 Julia Guerra
a person drinking from a glass © Christian Vierig / Contributor/GettyImages
  • Although some foods are obvious culprits of food poisoning, others are lesser-known.
  • Drinking pressed juice might expose you to harmful bacteria, as can consuming raw honey.
  • The eggs in homemade ice cream could get you sick.
  • Be careful when consuming kidney beans as, if prepared incorrectly, they could contain high amounts of a toxic protein.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food poisoning, a foodborne illness typically traced back to bacteria, viruses, parasites, and/or toxic substances, affects approximately one in six Americans each year.

Although items such as raw meats, raw and undercooked fish, eggs, and dairy have already been flagged as the types of foods that are most likely to make you sick, they're not the only culprits.

Here are 10 unexpected foods that can give you food poisoning.

The eggs in homemade ice cream could cause food poisoning

a plate of food on a table © Monica Schipper / Stringer/GettyImages

Homemade ice cream is a surprising culprit of food poisoning. According to the CDC, as reported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from 1996 to 2000 (the latest year for which surveillance was completed) Salmonella bacteria found in eggs in homemade ice cream was responsible for 17 outbreaks resulting in more than 500 illnesses.

"We all love ice cream but even the best ice cream can cause food poisoning if the eggs used in making it are already contaminated with salmonella," Obianuju Helen Okoye, MD, MBA, MS-Epi, a Chicago-based healthcare executive and public health physician told INSIDER.

If you're concerned about getting sick from homemade ice cream, the FDA recommends using a pasteurized egg product, egg substitute, or pasteurized shell eggs in place of raw eggs.

Rice that has been sitting out for too long at room temperature could make you sick

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, rice is among a variety of foods that naturally contain Bacillus cereus, or B. cereus, a type of bacteria that produces toxins.

When left at room temperature, these types of bacteria can multiply, Janette Nesheiwat, a board-certified medical doctor, medical news, family, and ER medicine expert told INSIDER.

The result is two kinds of sickness - diarrhea that lasts anywhere from six to 15 hours and/or nausea and vomiting that can last 30 minutes to six hours. 

Drinking pressed juices may expose you to bacteria

Robert Glatter, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, told INSIDER that because pressed juices are not pasteurized or heat-treated, there's always a risk that any bacteria on the fruit or veggies may not have been killed or destroyed. 

Related Slideshow: The truth about how to reheat food safely (provided by LoveFood)

"This may include bacterial proliferation associated with harvesting, production or storage of fruits and vegetables," Glatter said, noting that fresh produce can also be contaminated after it's harvested, specifically during preparation or due to incorrect storage.

"If pressed juices are made in the home setting, it's essential to not only rinse but thoroughly wash and mechanically scrub fruits and vegetables before processing," he added. "After production, juices must be consumed ideally within 48-72 hours to reduce the risk for foodborne illness."

Fruits and vegetables can get you sick, even if they have a peel

a pile of oranges © Daniel Munoz/Reuters

No fruit or vegetable is immune from potentially causing food poisoning, including those with a peel.

Dr. Niket Sonpal, a New York City internist and gastroenterologist, told INSIDER you can "absolutely" get sick from produce like oranges or potatoes, even if you peel them.

The types of harmful chemicals and bacteria that can cause food poisoning can be transferred directly from the peel into the fruit or vegetable when you cut into them, according to Sonpal.

"Be sure to always thoroughly wash all your produce, regardless of how you plan to eat it," he added. 

Raw honey may contain harmful toxins and bacteria

Raw honey is packed with antioxidants and antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has also been known to soothe a sore throat, as well as possibly ease digestive issues. The beneficial sweetener, however, has some risks associated with it.

Because it doesn't go through a pasteurization process, according to Healthline, raw honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that is especially harmful to babies, children, and pregnant people and can cause botulism poisoning, a rare poisoning that may result in life-threatening paralysis. 

Another harmful toxin that may appear in raw honey is grayanotoxin, which may lead to "mad honey disease," which can lead to nausea, vomiting, hypotension, dizziness, and impaired consciousness.

Rotisserie chicken could have been subjected to the 'danger zone'

Rotisserie chickens can make a convenient and high-protein meal. They can also, however, potentially get you sick.

According to the CDC, bacteria on food can multiply rapidly when it's left in the "danger zone," an environment that is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Food left out at this temperature should be thrown out after no longer than two hours.

Rotisserie chickens that have been purchased from grocery stores, or made at home, can be subjected to the "danger zone" for long periods of time. It's important to always reach for the hottest chicken at your local grocery store and, when cooking at home, be sure to refrigerate the chicken if not consumed within two hours.

Salad greens could contain harmful bacteria

a person holding a plate of food on a table © Jeff Greenberg / Contributor

Though you might not think so judging by the outbreak of E.coli in iceberg lettuce over the last few months, Lisa Richards, nutritionist and the creator of the Ultimate Candida Diet program, told INSIDER that, typically, salad greens are not the most obvious cause of food poisoning.

There are, however, several ways leafy green vegetables can make you sick.

The most common being that they were either rinsed with dirty water at the farm prior to distribution, the person who washed the greens was ill and didn't wash their hands, or as a result of cross-contamination by dirty utensils or cutting boards, Richards told INSIDER. 

Flour can carry harmful bacteria like E. coli

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, raw flour made from grains, nuts, and legumes can carry harmful bacteria, like E. coli, and make you sick.

Raw flour presents a particularly unique risk for foodborne illness because flour is not typically treated to kill potential bacteria that may be present, Glatter told INSIDER.

"The grain present in flour, if contaminated with animal feces, may remain in flour," he explained, and that's what places consumers at risk for illness. This is especially true if how the flour is being used - cooked, fried, or roasted - doesn't kill bacteria.

Greenish potatoes that sprout can contain a dangerous toxin

According to Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety, spuds with a greenish tint to their skin that sprout, exhibit bruising, and taste bitter, likely contain high levels of glycoalkaloids, a natural toxin produced by potatoes. The spike in toxins is due to overexposure to sunlight, which is why it's always best to store the starch in dark places, like a pantry.

When you eat a poisonous potato, stomach aches, diarrhea, and vomiting can ensue within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. You can, however, make these potatoes safe to eat by cutting off the sprouts and peeling away the green layers.

Kidney beans, when consumed raw or undercooked, might make you sick

a bowl of fruit on a plate © IndiaPictures / GettyImages

Beans are great in that they're high in protein and low in cost, but kidney beans, specifically, can be especially high in phytohaemagglutinin, a plant-based protein that can act as a toxin.

According to the FDA's "Bad Bug Book," eating as few as four or five raw or undercooked kidney beans can make you nauseous, vomit, and/or give you diarrhea.

To ensure kidney beans are safe to eat, soak them in water for at least five hours and boil them in fresh water for at least 30 minutes.

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