A Food Poisoning Expert Shares Which Things You Should Avoid Eating

Food: we can’t live without it, but that doesn’t mean we need to consume all of it. With E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks happening across the globe, it can be a dangerous game trying to determine what is safe to consume or how to prepare and eat it. Thankfully, there are food safety experts like Bill Marler who are happy to give out free tips on matters like this. The national expert on foodborne illness litigation has a solid set of rules that can bring value to many individuals when it comes to food safety. Continue reading and discover ways to ensure you’re eating as healthily as possible, straight from the expert himself!

Be Careful With The White Stuff

a cow has milk
Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for RL Public Relations & Marketing
Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for RL Public Relations & Marketing

While it’s rare that someone would do this, Bill Marler still needed to warn about the dangers of consuming raw milk. That’s right, when the milk goes straight from the cow to your belly.

Raw milk can be infected with different kinds of bacteria. While some may argue that milk loses nutrients during pasteurization, it’s just not worth the risk of consuming the stuff raw. Marler has seen the dangers.

The Dangers Of Milk

got milk
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Got Milk
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Got Milk

Marler’s list of foods and liquids to be careful of isn’t excruciatingly long, but he packs on the details. Marler feels that raw milk is one of the scariest products out there.

“The other thing off the Bill Marler list is any unpasteurized juice or raw milk,” he says. “They’re just really, really unsafe. Like sprouts, many of the proponents of those products point out all the allegedly healthful qualities, but in my view, they are some of the most dangerous food items out there.”

Raw Sprouts Might Seem Like The Right Call, But

a bunch of sprouts
saiakangikohvik/Instagram
saiakangikohvik/Instagram

How healthy does a sandwich with tomatoes, onions, avocado, and raw sprouts sound? It seems like one of the better choices you can make for the day, except for the last ingredient mentioned.

Raw sprouts can be lethal thanks to their growing process. The seeds sprout in standing water, which can grow bacteria! With so many outbreaks involving sprouts, you would be remiss not to pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination. Let Marler dive in a little deeper for you…

You Need To Stay Away From This Plant

animation image
bmarler/Twitter
bmarler/Twitter

Some people love including sprouts on their sandwiches or in their salads, but we hope they don’t do raw sprouts that often. The plants have a history of causing issues.

“One thing that I see repeated problems with—sprouts,” Marler admitted. “Just stay away from sprouts. They have not been able to figure out a good way of assuring that sprouts aren’t contaminated. Sprouts have been one of the leading causes of really large-scale outbreaks around the world.”

Is That Raw Juice? Pass…

raw juice is dangerous
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As tasty and healthy as it might seem, raw juice isn’t the proper route when you are thirsty. As we mentioned earlier, many believe there’s an issue with pasteurization, but the real problem is with raw beverages.

When you skip the pasteurizing step, harmful things can happen. There’s an increased risk of contamination by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Now, tell us, do you still want that raw beverage? There was a huge case that happened in the ’90s that should help persuade you…

Watch Your Juices, Please

the drink
paoloreyes33/Instagram
paoloreyes33/Instagram

There has to be a method to the madness when you’re dealing with science and health. Marler isn’t pulling these facts out of thin air. The expert fought several cases related to the issue in 1996.

Marler had cases for different children against the well-known beverage company Odwalla. One of his clients came down with a massive affliction called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) as a result of drinking unpasteurized apple juice.

How Well-Cooked Is Your Meat?

eating raw meat!
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images

People love to debate the best way to cook meat. Some say they like theirs with a little pink in the middle, and others say no pink at all. So, what’s the correct answer?

The sure-fire way to cook your meat without having to worry about any health repercussions is simple. As long as it’s cooked to 160 degrees throughout, you’re killing bacteria that could cause E. coli or Salmonella.

There Are Only Certain Kinds Of Cooked Meat You Should Eat

taking a bite of a hamburger
remsa.j/Instagram
remsa.j/Instagram

Yes, rare meat is something of a delicacy, but it isn’t great for your body at all, thanks to all the risks. Rare beef carries a host of potential foodborne pathogens like Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella.

“I wouldn’t let my kids eat hamburgers growing up,” says Marler.” From 1993 to 2003, most of the cases we dealt with were E. coli cases linked to [undercooked] hamburger.” Let that be a lesson to you burger lovers out there!

What’s The Deal With Pre-cut Fruit?

pre-cut fruit
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

What’s not to love about pre-cut fruit? Not only is it convenient, but it encourages you snack on something healthier than chips. Sadly, the same things that make it accessible are the exact reasons why you should say away.

You read correctly. Pre-cut or pre-washed fruit might be great in theory, but the more people that handle and process it, the higher the chances of it becoming contaminated. You wouldn’t want a bunch of random strangers touching your food in front of you, would you?

Marler Avoids Pre-Cut Fruit “Like The Plague”

fruit aisle
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Does the heading strike terror in your heart? We don’t mean to scare you; we’re only here to help. While you’re thinking you’re getting your vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals from pre-cut fruit, you can also be getting a whole lot more.

In an article Marler wrote, he said he avoids pre-cut fruit “like the plague.” The Australian Institute of Food Safety says that pre-cut fruit is one of the most common things linked with foodborne illnesses.

Who Cleans Your Lettuce?

be careful of it
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While vegetables are essential to our diets, be careful of the type you consume. Similar to pre-cut fruit, the kind of veggies you should be cautious of are lettuce and spinach that’s pre-washed.

Again, that is a convenience you can’t beat, but you definitely don’t want to fall ill thanks to some contaminated vegetables! That would be a really bad irony when you’re trying to eat healthier, so don’t let this happen to you.

The Pre-wash Idea Isn’t As Great As It Seems

getting fresh grown lettuce
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

First, Marler said he avoids pre-cut fruit like the plague, and he feels the same about pre-washed vegetables. He thinks spinach and lettuce explicitly are the two you need to add to your watch list, so be careful.

“The other product I avoid as much as I can is bagged spinach or lettuce that’s pre-washed,” the expert said. “In my view, it’s safer to buy a bunch of spinach or lettuce and wash it yourself.”

Not All Eggs Are Equal

guy looking at eggs
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Were you heavily influenced by the retro idea of drinking raw eggs after a workout? You know in the movies when they crack a couple of eggs into a cup and drink it like it’s water? No one should be doing that, as both raw and undercooked eggs are dangerous.

Eggs can carry Salmonella. The dangers used to be way worse in the ’80s and ’90s, but Marler still wouldn’t recommend doing consuming undercooked eggs.

What’s Your Favorite Type Of Egg?

over easy eggs
thefeedfeed/Instagram
thefeedfeed/Instagram

What came first, the chicken or the egg? While many still debate that, there’s another discussion going on with eggs that’s more important for your health. Yes, the way that eggs are handled has changed over the years, but it wasn’t too long ago that people would get sick from eating raw eggs.

Cooking eggs incorrectly can still lead to some risks. A foodsafety.gov representative said that eggs are particularly dangerous for immunocompromised folks, so that group of people needs to understand that before consuming any.

Watch The Shellfish

raw oysters
Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Not everyone is a fan of seafood, but those who are fans usually adore it. It’s one of those higher-end foods that cost more, but when prepared correctly, it’s sensational.

Sadly, foodborne illness linked to shellfish has shot up over the past four years due to global warming. You see, with warmer water, there’s an uptick in microbial growth, which finds itself in filter feeders like oysters. If you’re a fan of this shellfish, you might want to read what Marler has to say next…

Tasty But Dangerous

looks yummy
hawaii/Instagram
hawaii/Instagram

We hate to break it to all the oyster lovers out there, but you don’t want health problems in your life. Marler had a soft spot for the shellfish when he was a kid, but knowing what he knows now, he doesn’t touch them.

“I also avoid raw oysters, even though I grew up on them as a kid,” he says. “Raw oysters have, in my view, increased in risk profile. We’re starting to see a lot more norovirus and vibrio outbreaks linked to even cold water raw oysters.”

Stick To Filtered Water

drinking water
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Water covers the Earth. You can buy it practically everywhere, and even get it for free from water fountains. Sadly, that should be the only kind of free water you ever put in your system.

If, by chance, you happen to be around a stream, pond, river, or any other source of unfiltered water, don’t drink it. It can contain Giardia, animal feces, and many other types of bacteria. You just can’t be too sure about what’s upstream.

Don’t Go Around Munching On Uncooked Flour

woman tossing flour
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Flour is sometimes an imperative ingredient in meal preparation. If you’re having a fried fish or chicken night, it isn’t the same if you don’t coat it with flour and throw on some seasoning.

While it might be fun to dab your finger into the seasoned flour and taste it, that’s something you should stop doing. Uncooked flour can spread E. coli. In 2015 and 2016, 56 people had E. coli infections after consuming uncooked flour, so be cautious!

Do Egg Whites Instead

an egg white omelet
rpilato/Instagram
rpilato/Instagram

Remember, raw and undercooked eggs could lead to your demise. Kelsey Peoples of The Peoples Plate is a registered dietitian nutritionist who agrees with everything Marler says. Her suggestion for replacing the before-mentioned eggs is eggwhites.

Peoples says, “for some immunocompromised individuals, the safest option may be to try pasteurized liquid eggs, egg whites, or egg beater alternatives. Whites and beaters are also incredibly low in cholesterol, which is a benefit for those with any history of cardiovascular disease.”

Whole Fruit Is Just Fine

fruit products
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In today’s society, people value convenience so much. That’s a big reason why pre-cut fruit is such a hit. Now that you know why you shouldn’t enjoy that product so much, here’s an alternative provided by Peoples.

“So many fruits come with their own protective barrier—bananas, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit,” explains Peoples, “so take advantage of those whole fruits when trying to avoid contamination. If you want pre-cup options, commercially processed canned fruits are still an option.”

Be Careful With That Juice!

dilute your juice
Jamie Squire /Allsport
Jamie Squire /Allsport

If it isn’t pasteurized, then stay clear. Don’t believe the rumors that pasteurizing takes away from the liquid. This applies to juice, especially. Even the 100 percent fruit juice products can be detrimental.

Peoples says, “even 100 percent fresh fruit juice is an incredibly high source of sugar … an eight-ounce glass has as many grams of carbohydrates as two pieces of bread. I highly recommend diluting it with water to avoid blood sugar spikes.”

Have A Turkey Burger

woman holding turkey burgers
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

While hamburgers and steaks are as tasty as ever, if you still can’t get behind the idea of eating them well-done, there are alternatives for you. How much you value your health should determine your willingness to try out these options.

“Chicken and turkey burgers can be juicy and flavorful while being much leaner than most beef burgers, which is a perk for anyone looking to minimize their saturated fat intake. Vegetarian and vegan options are a fantastic way to get extra nutrients,” Peoples says.

The Seafood Goods

close up of shrimp
Thomas Yau/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
Thomas Yau/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

As we said before, seafood is a dish that many people crave and love. The delicious options range from crab to crawfish, but shellfish is something everyone needs to be cautious about eating. You never know what type of bacteria creep inside those shells.

Here’s what Peoples has to say about shellfish. “Cooked alternatives like shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail, or baked clams are just as glamorous with far lower risk.” Now that you know better, you can do better.

A Trick To Replace Sprouts

woman prepping cabbage
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The information we shared about sprouts might’ve put a rain cloud over a ton of people who love the plant, and we’re sorry. That’s why we’re now providing you with an alternative that imitates what sprouts do for your yummy sandwich.

“Fresh sprouts do add nice flavor and crunch to sandwiches and salads,” says Peoples, “but the moist environment of a bundle of sprouts is a great breeding ground for bacteria. For similar crunch with less risk, just start with a head of iceberg lettuce or cabbage and finely chop.” Easy!

What Does The Expert Eat While Dining Out?

the man behind the facts
marlerclark/YouTube
marlerclark/YouTube

Marler shares a lot of knowledge about food poisoning, so it makes one wonder about his habits. He must dine out, so what does he order when at a restaurant when you can’t control which food the chefs put on the skillet?

“I make a mental distinction between things that might kill you quickly and things that might kill you long-term,” Marler says. “I’ll bend towards ordering a pizza at a restaurant. The chances of a pizza killing you—pretty low.”