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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?


    How is risk reduced from these 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.

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    What do you mean by 'avoid risky food and water'?

    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.  

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    What foods are high-risk?  

    Examples of high-risk foods include raw (unpasteurized) 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.  

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    Why are raw sprouts on the list of high-risk foods?  

    To produce sprouts, seeds are soaked then kept moist for several days while they sprout. The conditions for sprouting a seed are ideal for bacteria growth. Thus, if the seeds are contaminated with bacteria, the numbers may be very high in the sprout.  Ways to remove bacteria from seeds for sprouting are being investigated.  Cooked sprouts are not in the high-risk category.

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    Why are some people at high risk for foodborne illness?

    Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can cause severe illness in some people, including pregnant women (the risk is for the fetus), elderly, and people who have weakened immune systems.  [Healthy people rarely get sick when they are exposed to listeria.]  Foods that are likely to containListeria should be avoided by people in the high-risk categories.  Listeria is a very tough bacteria.  It survives and can even multiply slowly in the refrigerator.  If refrigerated foods that have a long "shelf-life" are contaminated with low levels ofListeria in a processing plant, the number ofListeria may become very high before the food is eaten.

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