The Latest Stats on Food Poisoning—And How to Prevent It

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Encouraging teens to try cooking for themselves is a great way to create healthy eating habits. However, before they put on their aprons and head into the kitchen, it's important to discuss food safety.

Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest report on food poisoning. For the year 2013, there were about 19,000 illnesses and 80 deaths across 10 states. The CDC estimated that 1 in 6 Americans gets food poisoning annually, but many do not report it.

Although the stats are high, even with so many unreported cases, there is some good news: Most food poisoning incidents can be prevented. This is why practicing food safety is a necessity!

Cleanliness is key. The best way to avoid getting sick is washing all fruits and vegetables—even ones with peels, like bananas and oranges. All meats and eggs should be cooked thoroughly. Cross-contamination can also spread bacteria! To stay safe, use separate cutting boards for vegetables and raw meats.

Salmonella—a pathogen that grows on food and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and cramps—is the top culprit of food-borne illnesses, accounting for 38 percent of reported food-poisoning incidents in the U.S. It can be found in hundreds of foods, including tomatoes, ice cream, chicken and ground beef. Even something as seemingly innocent as tasting cookie dough can be dangerous, since raw eggs in the batter may contain salmonella. So as tempting as it may be, keep your hands out of the batter to stay safe!

In the May issue of Choices, the “Delicious but Deadly” story takes a closer look at food poisoning and how to prevent it. See how well you know your favorite foods by checking out our list of the "dirty half-dozen," a.k.a. the six riskiest foods—and how to protect yourself.

Did any foods on the list surprise you? How will this change your cooking habits? Share your responses in the comments below!