What about sushi?
Bill Marler is one of the most experienced and successful food-safety lawyers in the US. During his 20-year career he has represented victims of food-poisoning against global chains, such as Chipotle and Costco. There are some foods that Marler never eats because he knows how much harm they can do.
Here are the six foods that Marler would rather deal with in the courtroom than see on his dinner plate:
1. Unpasteurised milk and juice
Raw milk can be contaminated with viruses, parasites, and bacteria such as the potentially virulent E. coli. ‘There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurisation,’ he says.
2. Raw sprouts
When uncooked or lightly cooked, alfalfa, mung bean, clover, radish sprouts, and other types of brean sprouts, can all spread bacterial infection (mostly salmonella and E. coli). Raw sprouts have been linked to more than 30 outbreaks in the US since the mid-1990s. Marler will only eat them if they’re cooked.
3. Undercooked meat
‘The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it.’ He adds that the common restaurant practice of piercing steaks with needles to make them more tender can also transfer bugs from the surface to the interior of the meat.
4. Prewashed vegetables
‘I avoid these like the plague,’ Marler says. The more a food is handled and processed, the more likely it is to become tainted. ‘We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food – bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that. Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk.’ Marler buys unwashed, uncut fruit and vegetables in small amounts and eats it within three to four days to reduce the risk of listeria: a deadly bug that grows at fridge temperature.
5. Raw or undercooked eggs
In the 80s and 90s there was a huge salmonella epidemic linked to the consumption of raw eggs. The most recent salmonella outbreak from eggs occurred in 2010 and caused around 2,000 cases of illness.
6. Raw oysters and other shellfish
Marler believes that raw shellfish have been causing more foodborne illness lately. He connects this to warming waters which produce more microbial growth. ‘Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water. If there’s bacteria in the water, it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I’ve seen a lot more of that over the past five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It’s simply not worth the risk.’
What about sushi?
Fish used for sushi is generally handled very carefully from the source to the sushi chef. Nonetheless, Marler recommends being very careful and never buying at the supermarket. ‘If you’re going to eat sushi, spend the money and eat at a good sushi restaurant.’
[Via Bottomline Health]