3 Riskiest Foods on Grocery Store Shelves

Food safety training in Ontario11 million Canadians suffer from food poisoning every year. While most people who get sick only suffer milder symptoms that don’t need treatment, a percentage of those infected will require hospitalization, and a small percent die as a result of their illness.

Milder symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • headaches
  • weakness
  • mild fever

Severe food poisoning, on the other hand, can lead to bloody stools, extreme pain, kidney failure, and seizures.

The Center for Disease Control collected 10 years’ worth of data of food poisoning specifically in the United States, in order to determine which foods were the riskiest for consumers. Read on to discover the biggest culprits on grocery store shelves.


Roughly one in five deaths from food poisoning in the United States comes from contaminated chicken. Salmonella in undercooked chicken accounted for most of these deaths, and the bacteria clostridium perfringens was present in many cases. As students enrolled in food handling programs will know, clostridium perfringens usually spreads in foods that are stored at inadequate temperatures, which promotes the growth of bacteria.

In order to prevent illness, professionals with a food technology diploma recommend that people adequately cook chicken and clean all utensils that come into contact with raw meat in warm soapy water.

Ground Beef

While the risk of contamination from E. coli is present with all beef products, the risk of contamination in ground beef is especially high. This is because pathogens can spread throughout the meat during the grinding process. Sometimes, different cuts of meat can be used to make the same patties. In those cases, one batch of contaminated meat can easily infect other untainted meat, especially if the bacteria is only caught by regulators after the grinding process.

While some strains of E. coli are relatively harmless, E. coli O157:H7 can lead to serious illness, disability or even death. Only cooking ground beef to a temperature of 160F kills the bacteria, which is why food safety experts heavily promote washing all surfaces and utensils touched by the raw meat.

Leafy Greens

While chicken and beef resulted in a higher percentage of deaths related to food poisoning, leafy greens were responsible for more overall cases of illness. Nearly 46% of food poisoning could be traced back to contaminated leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.

Most illnesses were attributed to norovirus, which most often spreads when infected persons handle food or when food comes into contact with a contaminated surface.

While chicken, beef, and leafy greens are all part of a healthy diet, they can be susceptible to contamination. In order to make these foods safer for consumers, food safety training in Ontario helps promote workers who know how to foresee and prevent contamination all along the food supply chain.

What precautions do you take to avoid contamination when handling food?


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