Dirtiest Foods: A WAFF 48 News Special Report

A bad case of food poisoning can make you feel like you are dying. The nausea and diarrhea are often accompanied by stomach cramps and dehydration.

Food poisoning occurs more than you might think. Anna Ingenneri recalled her horrible experience with a bout of food poisoning.

"Oh I wanted to die. You just want it to end," she said.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 200,000 Americans get food poisoning every day.  Some estimates put that number as high as 800,000.

But what really causes food poisoning?

"Any kind of bacteria that tends to stay on food and when you ingest it, it's what we call oral fecal. In other words you find it in the stool," explained Dr. Debra Williams with Madison County Health Department.

There is probably only one way to assure you don't get food poisoning and that is to stop eating altogether. Since that is not an option, let's take a look at some of the common causes of food borne illness.

The first and probably least surprising one is eggs. The incredible edible egg can be incredibly contaminated with salmonella. Food poisoning linked to eggs sickens about 660,000 people every year, killing 300.

"Almost all eggs will have some salmonella that is why it is recommended you cook them thoroughly and make sure you don't have those nice over easy eggs that could be infectious," said Dr. Williamson.

Pasteurization has greatly reduced the rate of salmonella in eggs. To reduce your risk for food poisoning, at the supermarket, check the carton. Look for the word pasteurized and the expiration date. Remove each egg and check for cracks, which is how germs get in.

The next culprit is chicken and one of the biggest food poisoning dangers comes when we prepare chicken to cook at home. Chicken juices can go through a kitchen and contaminate things you never thought about being contaminated.

Next we're talking turkey. A USDA survey found that more than one in four turkeys contains listeria. 24 percent came back positive for salmonella.

If ground beef is what's for dinner, find a supermarket that sells irradiated ground beef. It will be written on the package. It means it's been nuked to kill off harmful bacteria.
Next on our list of dirtiest foods is prepackaged lettuce. It can contain e coli. Just because it claims to be triple washed, it doesn't mean it's bacteria free. Unfortunately even with taking every precaution, you could still end up with a nasty case of food poisoning that can last up to 48 hours.

Dr. Tim Howard said there are some things you can do to lessen the effects.

"The biggest things I tell patients all the time is clear liquids. That's sprite, ginger ale, 7Up and Gatorade," suggested Howard.

One of the biggest questions patients with food poisoning have is when should you go to the doctor as opposed to waiting it out.

 "If you become dehydrated, you need to go to the doctor," said Dr. Howard. "Almost all of the pathogens will cause bloody diarrhea. If you have bloody diarrhea, you need to go to the doctor."

In Anna's case she was able to wait hers out.

"Oh my God, it lasted about eight hours, but you are wasted for the rest of the day," she said.

Copyright 2011 WAFF. All rights reserved.