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Healthy Living

Healthy Foods That Can Make You Sick

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 12/15/2009
Last Updated: 12/15/2009

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In our quest to eat right, we search out healthy foods: protein-packed eggs, iron-rich leafy greens, calcium-rich cheese. I don't know about you, but I always feel so much better - mentally and physically - when I make healthy food choices. Besides, somehow I'm naturally drawn to those healthier foods; maybe my body knows what it needs and I'm learning to listen.

But one thing we don't think about is that sometimes these healthy foods can be carrying harmful bacteria.

I was surprised to read about a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) which found that leafy greens, sprouts and berries are among the foods most likely to carry infections or toxins. (Since meat products are not regulated by the FDA, they were not included in their list.)

While it's certainly not their aim to discourage people from eating healthy (they're the same folks who turned my husband totally off to Chinese food when, years back, they published a report of how laden with sugar and fat some of his very favorite dishes were), this consumer advocacy group is trying to encourage consumers to be aware of the nation's food safety system and practice defensive eating habits, like keeping food cold, cooking it thoroughly and avoiding raw eggs.

If you've ever had a bout with food poisoning - I have had a few mild cases in years past - then you can understand the importance of careful handling habits.

These foods were included in their top 10 list:
Ice Cream

Another thing I'd suggest is washing your greens thoroughly - even if you buy the packaged kinds that say "pre-washed." Read about all food safety.

Here's what has to say about it.


Thanks for these suggestions. I was surprised to see ice cream on the list, but I guess sometimes it defrosts when the electricity is down and store owners leave it in place, rather than throw it out .... Ugh!

Actually, Alexandra, the report had ice cream because it's made with raw eggs...although, I've never heard of food poisoning from ice cream, come to think of it...

oy, I just ate gritty greens the other day. This advice gives me pause. I know people who have gotten so so sooo sick from food poisoning. Thanks for the reminder!

I ended up with kidney stones after losing a lot of weight eating plenty of leafy greens and nuts. I was so upset to learn that my new healthy diet had made me sick.

Oh, Jennifer, gritty greens. How unappetizing!

And Marthaandme, what an unfortunate twist of luck - losing weight to be healthier, but getting sick in the process.

Sometimes it is hard to protect yourself. We returned from an almost 3-week trip to Italy, congratulating ourselves on not getting sick along the way, and then shared a salad in the airport in Dallas on the last leg of our flight. BOTH got wretchedly ill. Presumably, somebody in the kitchen didn't clean the lettuce or their own hands or both.


Oh man, as usual, all my favorites are listed. And I'm a terrible food washer.

I'm with Alisa, I'm not always the best food washer. I always buy the pre-washed bags of spinach figuring someone else has done the work for me.

I'm surprised to see potatoes on that list!

Oh, no Vera! That's just awful. Of all places to get sick in,too...an airport.

Oy! Food poisoning is the worst. Honestly, one of the big reasons I'm a huge fan of the farmers market is that I know each of the farmers personally and I have my die hard favorites who I trust to grow, harvest and sell their goods properly. It's a scary world out there and ridiculous that we have to worry about eating berries and spinach!

I saw on the New Zealand news the other day that celery topped the list of pesticide-tainted foods. Depressing.

Celery, too? Are we safer with prepackaged manufactured food, than with fresh things that grow from the ground?? Depressing is right.

Oh, I'm surprised by the potatoes, too.
As for ice cream, not surprised at all. Had a similar experience to Vera Marie - ate an ice lolly in Lebanon before heading off to the airport and then threw up all the way on the flight back home - passengers tutting at my husband whispering "Is she always like that on a plane??"

I worry when I travel overseas - especially about raw vegetables that are washed in local water. When I travel I now live on vegetarian dishes with completely cooked vegetables, or fruits that have been peeled so that I know they haven't come in with the water.


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