Eight Common Sources of Food Poisoning that Might Surprise You

By: VGFS
Monday, June 19, 2023

In the heat of summer, the conditions are right for an increased risk of food poisoning.

Cases of foodborne illness soar in the summer. Although items such as raw meat, raw and undercooked fish, and eggs are well-known for causing food poisoning, they are not the only culprits.

Read on to learn about eight unexpected sources of food poisoning that everyone should be aware of.

Honey

Packed with antioxidants and antibacterial properties, honey has also been known to soothe a sore throat and ease digestive issues. The beneficial sweetener, however, has some risks associated with it. Because it doesn't go through a pasteurization process, raw honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that is especially harmful to babies, children, and pregnant women. It can cause botulism poisoning, a rare poisoning that may result in life-threatening paralysis.

Rice

Can leftover rice give you food poisoning? Unfortunately, yes. The problem is that uncooked rice may contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. These spores can survive even when the rice is cooked, and if you leave it out at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria and multiply, producing toxins that cause food poisoning. Get any leftover rice in the fridge within an hour of preparation so bacteria have little opportunity to grow.

Rotisserie chicken

Although rotisserie chicken makes a convenient, high-protein meal, it can also make you sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), bacteria in food can multiply rapidly when it's left in the "danger zone," an environment between 40- and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Rotisserie chickens purchased from grocery stores are often relegated to the "danger zone" for long periods of time. Always reach for the hottest chicken and be sure to refrigerate it as soon as you get home if it is not being consumed within one hour.

Flour

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, raw flour made from grains, nuts, and legumes can carry harmful bacteria such as E. coli. It presents a particular risk for foodborne illness because it is not typically treated to kill potential bacteria that may be present, So for example, if the grain used to make the flour is contaminated with animal feces, it remains in there after production.

Canned goods

Although rare, canned foods can lead to botulism if the canning process is not performed correctly or if the can is sealed improperly. The bacteria Clostridium botulinum can thrive in low-oxygen environments, producing a potent neurotoxin. Never use food from cans that are deeply dented, cracked, leaking, or swollen.

Soft cheese

Feta, brie, camembert, and other soft cheeses are made from unpasteurized milk. They can contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, which poses a particular risk to pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems. Only consume cheese that has pasteurized milk on the ingredient label. Regardless of which variety you choose, it should be refrigerated at all times until used or served. Be sure to pay careful attention to use by dates on the packaging, as well.

Kidney beans

Beans are full of protein and low in cost, but kidney beans can be especially high in phytohaemagglutinin, a plant-based protein that can act as a toxin. According to the FDA, consuming just a few raw or undercooked kidney beans can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. To ensure kidney beans are safe to consume, soak them in water for at least five hours and boil them in fresh water for 30 minutes or longer. 

Potatoes

If stored improperly, potatoes can develop high levels of solanine, a naturally occurring toxic compound. Green potatoes, sprouted potatoes, or potatoes with heavily damaged areas should be avoided. Once cooked, potatoes are a high-risk food for bacteria that can cause food poisoning because they hold a lot of moisture and are slightly acidic. Consume potatoes with three days of cooking and always reheat them to 165°F to kill any bacteria that may have formed.

We hope you found this information about food poisoning helpful. If you have questions, need additional resources, or require assistance in any way, we are here to help. Please contact us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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