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Avoid risky foods

Some foods are more likely to be contaminated with pathogens -- the bugs that can make you sick. If you eat these foods, you increase your risk of getting a foodborne illness. Examples of high-risk foods include raw (non-pasteurized) milk and raw-milk cheeses (Raw milk cheese is particularly risky if it fresh rather than aged), raw and undercooked meat and poultry, raw and undercooked eggs, and uncooked seafood from contaminated water. Home-canned vegetables, meat and fish that were not processed correctly are also high-risk. Uncooked sprouts are also on the list of high-risk foods.

Heat is the usual way to kill bacteria, viruses and other bad "bugs". Pasteurization is the term that means that a food has been heated to a temperature that kills all pathogens in the food.

Although we do not have (and will never be able to obtain) a risk-free food supply, food manufacturers are able to control many of the serious risks in foods.

Avoid Risky Foods and Water
In some cases, especially for persons at high risk for foodborne illness, the best food safety practice is to avoid a certain food, water or preparation method.
  1. Drink only pasteurized milk and fruit juices.
  2. Use water from a safe water supply for drinking and food preparation.
  3. Avoid eating raw sprouts.
  4. Avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood.
  5. Avoid eating foods containing raw eggs; use pasteurized eggs or egg products in uncooked foods containing eggs.
  6. Use cheese and yogurt made from pasteurized milk.
  7. Obtain shellfish from approved sources.
  8. If pregnant, immunocompromised, or elderly:
    - avoid soft cheeses, cold smoked fish, or cold deli salads.
    - avoid hot dogs and lunch meats that have not been reheated to steaming hot or 165°F.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How is risk reduced from these high-risk foods?
  • What do you mean by 'avoid risky food and water'?
  • What foods are high-risk?
  • Why are raw sprouts on the list of high-risk foods?
  • Why are some people at high risk for foodborne illness?

    Links to Fact sheets
  • Gathering Safe Shellfish in Washington
  • Guidelines For Using Manure On Vegetable Gardens
  • Preparation Of Apple Cider For Home Use
  • Preparing for Emergencies and Disasters
  • Quality Seafood
  • Queso Fresco Hecho Saludable
  • Making Meat Jerky

    Links to more information
  • Pennsylvania State University food safety
  • Food and Nutrition Information Center at USDA
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • U.S. Foodborne Illness Education Information Center
  • U.S. Government Gateway to Food Safety Information
  • Nutrition and Health Information from the US Government Websites
  • USDA Food and Nutrition Services
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service at USDA
  • WSU Cooperative Extension Bulletin Office
  • Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at FDA

    WSU Bulletins
    Click here for a list of Food Safety publications you can order from WSU.


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