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The Ten Dirtiest Foods to Watch Out For

The Ten Dirtiest Foods to Watch Out For

Posted - Jun. 24, 2004 at 2:25 p.m.



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NBC’s Doreen Gentzler ReportingThe Centers for Disease Control says every one of us will get sick from something we eat this year. And even if you think you know how to prevent food poisoning, you might be surprised to learn where some food germs could be lurking.

Men's Health Magazine came out with a list of what it calls the top ten dirtiest foods. And some of them are no surprise -- chicken, ground beef, and ground turkey are the top three. All of them can pick up germs when they're processed, and if you cook them thoroughly, they should be safe to eat.

Raw oysters are number four. Cook them unless you want to risk swallowing some salmonella or e coli. Eggs are number five. Make sure you cook those too.

Number six on the list of dirtiest foods is cantaloupe. You may not think to wash the outside of the melon because you never eat that part.

Lisa Lachenmayer, Nutritionist, University of Maryland: "Your knife will go over the outside and if there is bacteria, it will take into the inside."

You should wash every kind of melon with soapy water before you slice it -- honeydew, watermelon, and bananas too.

Number seven's another fruit, peaches. They put a lot of pesticides on them to get them to the store blemish-free. Wash them thoroughly before you eat them.

Prepackaged lettuce is number eight on the dirtiest foods list. The label says it's pre-washed, but e coli on prepackaged lettuce made dozens of people on the west coast sick last year and the year before. Wash it yourself if you want to be sure it's safe.

Number nine may surprise you: cold cuts.

Lisa Lachenmayer: "Cold cuts can actually carry a bacteria called lysteria that pregnant women are recommended to avoid because it can cause complications in pregnancies."

And the number ten dirtiest food is scallions. Remember the deadly hepatitis outbreak traced to a Pennsylvania Chi Chi's restaurant last fall? Scallions were identified as the problem there and in several smaller outbreaks too.

Lisa Lachenmayer: "They're harder to clean, they have a higher water content so bacteria is able to thrive in it. Bacteria needs water. It's often put on top so it wasn't cooked.

Clean and cook your scallions at home and be wary of them at restaurants.

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