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Food Poisoning

Salads Can Kill You

— June 18, 2015



All of you burger-lovin’, BBQ-eatin’, heath-food scorning carnivores may just have been vindicated. A new study shows that eating salads can kill you!

OK, maybe not totally vindicated. The study states that one of the main reasons people toss food in the garbage is fear of food poisoning. It turns out, that’s a justifiable fear. Millions of people in the U.S. get food poisoning every year. When I was younger, it was undercooked meat, poultry or eggs that were the main culprits, followed closely by seafood.

Nowadays though, it’s fruits and veggies according to the CDC. Almost half of all food borne illnesses are caused by produce, with dairy and eggs claiming 20%, meat and poultry claiming 22% and seafood only claiming 6%. This is likely due to the fact that most of the produce we consume is raw, meaning dangerous bacteria aren’t killed during cooking.

The USDA offers this advice on food storage and preparation:

  • Buy produce that is not bruised or damaged.
  • If you buy precut produce — pineapple chunks, bagged salad greens — select those that are refrigerated or iced.
  • When packing your groceries, separate the fresh fruits and vegetables from meat, poultry, and seafood products.
  • Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below.
  • Make sure to wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
  • If you use plastic or other nonporous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
  • Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, wash it first.
  • Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.

Being vegan, I can appreciate this advice since none of my nourishment comes from animal products. I’ve always been careful in the kitchen, but it looks like I’ll need to step up my game if I want to stay in the game. Having had food poisoning once (the potato salad left in the sun mistake), I don’t care to ever have it again.

I suppose I could always give up and toss a cow on the fire, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’ll just have to live with the fact that I’m twice as likely to get sick as my omnivorous counterparts. In the meantime, all you meat lovers get one free “I told you so” on me.


Salads poison more Americans than hamburgers. Here’s how to avoid getting sick.

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