You’re not feeling well after the family picnic, you avoided the mayonnaise coleslaw, and the undercooked chicken, so why do you feel so terrible? Food safety and handling is receiving far more attention these days, as people begin to realize that while that church dinner might be a bargain – you could be taking chances with your health.

This article will give you an overview of the top ten riskiest foods, and what you can do to keep your family safe.

#10 – Berries

The raspberry you sampled while wandering through the grocery store may have looked clean, but it could contain Cyclospora. Cyclospora is a parasite which can be found on imported fruits and vegetables from developing nations through contaminated water sources and improper handling. The parasite itself lives in contaminated water, and with berries containing such a high water content, they make excellent hosts.

Another potential danger of unwashed berries is Hepatitis A. This acute infectious disease can be spread by workers who neglect to wash their hands after visiting washrooms. Hepatitis A can cause jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever which can last weeks to months.

To make berries safe to eat, wash all berries in clear running water to remove any nasty ingredients you didn’t invite to dinner.

#9 – Sprouts

Commonly served as a side-dish in ethnic restaurants, the bean sprout may add extra flavour to your soup, but it can also make you sick. Not only can the sprout be damaged or contaminated during picking and packaging, they are also a great breeding ground for germs such as E-coli and Salmonella. An indicator that your bean sprout could be contaminated is heat, if heat is emanating from your sprouts, avoid them.

The safest bean sprout is a cooked bean sprout.

#8 – Tomatoes

The tomato in its natural form; whole and uncut has a PH balance that prevents the growth of most bacteria such as Salmonella. Tomatoes should be stored uncut at room temperature. Once the tomato is washed and cut it should be refrigerated.

If a tomato is cut and left at room temperature, such as in a restaurant salad bar, Salmonella has the opportunity to multiply.

An extra precaution in keeping your tomatoes bacteria free is to cut out the scar where the stem was and throw it away.

#7- Ice Cream

Finally, an excuse to say no to that creepy ice cream truck roaming the neighbourhood! Ice cream has been linked to outbreaks of salmonella and staphylococcus originating from the use of under or non-pasteurized dairy products. While most commercial ice cream producers use pasteurized dairy products, Salmonella can frequent your home ice cream maker.

To avoid Salmonella in your homemade ice cream, it’s a good idea to use a commercially prepared egg base product, or avoid eggs in your ice cream altogether.

#6- Cheese

The basis for making cheese is the formation of bacteria. You can’t cook it out, you can’t wash it out, so how do you keep yourself safe – keep it refrigerated until just before consumption. In thirteen of the sixteen recorded disease outbreak involving cheese, the cheese was produced with unpasteurized milk.

Pregnant women and persons at high risk should avoid unpasteurized imported and soft cheeses to prevent illness.

#5- Potatoes

Mom always warned you to stay away from that picnic potato salad – and you probably thought it was because of the mayonnaise. The real culprit in potato salad isn’t the shelf stable mayonnaise it is potatoes

Cooked potatoes that are not allowed to cool for an appropriate length of time before being incorporated into other recipes can grow bacteria such as Salmonella and Shigella. Potatoes cooked in foil should be immediately removed from foil after cooking. The tin foil can provide the perfect breeding grounds for Botulism.

When cooking potatoes eat them warm, or refrigerate immediately.

#4 – Oysters

Oysters may be a wonderful aphrodisiac, but they are also a wonderful way to make you very sick. While the thrill of the slippery oyster disappears with cooking, that thrill could contain Norovirus and Vibrio (a bacteria found in saltwater).

Nothing kills the mood more than explosive watery diarrhea.

#3 – Tuna

While it’s always a good idea to cook the food that comes out of the sea, toxins found in tuna cannot be removed by cooking. Freshly caught tuna must be handled with care, from the fishing boat to the canning facility. Neglecting to keep the tuna chilled to a temperature of 60 degrees, will allow Scromboid (poisoning which resembles an allergic reaction) to develop.

#2 – Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein – and Salmonella. While all eggs are washed prior to packaging, most eggs will have come into contact with salmonella which originates from inside the hen itself. When the hen lays eggs, the eggs come into contact with the chicken’s feces.

To prevent the growth and spread of bacteria, refrigerate eggs and never leave them the counter at room temperature. Always wash your hands after handling raw eggs and their shells.

#1 – Leafy Greens

The grocery store bagged salad may say “washed” on the package, but it’s always safer to wash any greens before you eat them. Many bagged salads may have been produced by companies who package in developing nations, where water supplies may be contaminated.

Leafy greens can contain E-coli, even if they have been washed, so leaving them at room temperature can cause the E-coli bacteria to multiply.

With any food, it’s a good rule of thumb to refrigerate all items within two hours, wash your hands, and wash as many food items as you possibly can under clear running water. Food safety may seem like a hassle, but it’s a hassle worth your health!