ANYONE CAN GET food poisoning, but certain people have a higher risk of getting sick and developing severe illness. These include people over the age of 65, children under the age of 5, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. These individuals may need to take extra precautions.

But studies have shown that there are some foods that are risky for anyone to consume because they have a higher potential to cause foodborne illness, as follows:

Fresh sprouts

Sprouts — alfalfa, bean, lentil or clover — have the potential to contain disease-causing pathogens, which is why it’s important to wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. Raw sprouts have a much higher risk of carrying disease-causing pathogens compared to other produce. Sprouts require warm, moist conditions to grow, which are also ideal conditions for pathogens like E. coli, salmonella, or listeria, to grow.

Raw milk

Raw milk has not been pasteurized, a process that heats the milk to a certain temperature to kill bacteria. It’s a raw agricultural product coming out of the udder of a cow right next to its fecal disposal unit, and there’s a high probability the udder can become contaminated, and the bacteria make it into the milk. These include pathogens like E. coli and campylobacter, as well as listeria, brucella and salmonella. This applies to raw milk from sheep, goats, and carabao.

Raw oysters or clams

They’re very risky because of possible infection with Vibrio bacteria. One type, Vibrio vulnificus, can enter the bloodstream and cause life-threatening complications, like flesh-eating disease and septic shock. Other infections linked to raw oysters and clams include salmonella, norovirus and hepatitis.

Raw or undercooked eggs

Raw and undercooked eggs have a greater potential to be contaminated with pathogens like salmonella. Infection with salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps lasting up to a week.

“Rare” anything

While it’s common for people to eat steak or burgers with reddish and pink centers or lightly seared tuna, for example, these haven’t been cooked to a high enough temperature to kill any disease-causing bacteria that could be present.

Finally, food poisoning cannot always be 100% prevented and accidents happen, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:

Wash hands with soap and water before, during after cooking food and always after using the bathroom.

Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood separate from foods that won’t be cooked.

Do not handle or cook food for others when sick.

Refrigerate leftovers within two hours and store in an airtight container in a refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler. By Manny Palomar, PhD (EV Mail Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2024 issue)