Think You Know the Biggest Source of Food Poisoning?

refrigeratorI'm a food safety fanatic. I wash my produce thoroughly and my hands continually when cooking. I sniff and smell, and still throw food out before its expiration date, just in case.

As for cooking thoroughly, I'd rather be safe and dry than sorry and sick when it comes to serving food to my family, even if I would prefer my burger rare.

So I was surprised to learn the number one source of food poisoning wasn't among those I fret about most.

Want to know what it is?


Chicken! Actually, it's all poultry, but I would have never guessed it over things like spinach or ground beef or eggs.

While I knew poultry was a source of salmonella if not cooked properly, it's pretty easy to tell if chicken isn't cooked enough -- it's pink and the texture is off. But apparently, it's not as easy as it seems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2007, there were 21,000 illnesses and 18 deaths  from food poisoning reported. Of those, 17 percent were traced to poultry, and (hold onto your salad) grilled chicken, was especially prone.

Beef actually did come in close, causing 16 percent of cases; and leafy vegetables accounted for 14 percent.

The scariest part of the whole report, however, is that only 5 percent of people who get food poisoning are actually included in the report.  Most people just suffer through it and move on, so there are a LOT more cases occurring every day.

The USDA has some good information on cooking poultry and beef that provides helpful tips and reminders, even if you already think you know the answers.

Have you ever had food poisoning? Are you surprised that poultry is the number one source of food-related illnesses?

Image via susansimon/Flickr

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