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Top Food Poisoning Sources Revealed: CDC

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

You know the top sources of food poisoning, right? Don't be so confident because you might be surprised by what a new CDC study shows.

Food poisoning happens all the time. It sickens 48 million Americans each year, according to the CDC, but for most of us it's not too serious. Still, about 3,000 people die every year from illnesses related to food poisoning.

The biggest culprit: Salmonella bacteria, which shouldn't be a shock to anyone. But what is interesting is where most Salmonella and other infections come from.

The Most Common Sources of Foodborne Illness

If you've been wary of raw eggs, meat, and poultry, your fears are justified. Salmonella in eggs and E. coli in beef are some of the most common sources of food poisoning.

Salmonella from undercooked chicken is also a serious concern. It's the No. 1 source of death from food poisoning, reports NBC News.

But the biggest source of foodborne illness is apparently leafy green vegetables. It's linked to 20% of all food poisoning cases in the United States every year. Other common non-meat sources of illness include sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, and unpasteurized dairy products.

Some food contamination happens in home kitchens, but a lot also takes place in restaurant kitchens. Almost half of all outbreaks that can be traced to a single source come from commercial kitchens, the CDC reported.

How to Stay Safe

When it comes to keeping you and your family safe, knowledge is the first step. Reports on food poisoning outbreaks and recalls can tell you what ingredients or locations to avoid.

If you do get sick from something you ate, try to figure out the culprit and avoid it in the future. This part can be tricky since it can take a while for symptoms to show up.

Of course, if you get sick at a restaurant that doesn't follow proper safety precautions, you might be able to sue them for the costs associated with your illness. But coming up with proof will be difficult unless there's a big outbreak of illness from the same place.

The CDC's food poisoning study -- found in the March 2013 edition of the CDC's Emerging Infectious Disease Journal -- isn't really "good news," but you may still want to take its findings to heart. For example, instead of a leafy green salad when you're out at a restaurant, maybe just skip to the chocolate cake. After all, it's for your health, right?

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