Food-Poisoning Expert Reveals 5 Things You Should Never Order At Restaurants (And It’s Not What You Think)

Posted by on May 14, 2018 in Hazards, Issues & Diseases, Health with 0 Comments

Your salad may be healthy, but it probably isn't the safest option when it comes to food poisoning

By Kate Taylor | Business Insider

A deep knowledge of thousands of food poisoning cases across the US means that there are some things that Bill Marler just won't order when he goes out to eat.

With more than two decades working as a food poisoning advocate and attorney, there are simply some things that Marler has cut out of his diet. Marler has won more than $600 million for clients in foodborne-illness cases — and seen how restaurants are being forced to change to prevent more sicknesses.

“Chain restaurants, post-Jack-in-the-Box, they went through a sort of rethinking about how they do stuff,” Marler said.

Today, many of the biggest risk for food poisoning at chain restaurants come from an individual worker who “picked his nose then made your burrito,” Marler said. The action of a rogue restaurant worker can make a handful of people sick — but usually won't spark a huge outbreak.

However, there are some foods that Marler avoids when he goes out to eat. That includes salad — a choice that has renewed relevance with an E. coli outbreak that spans 25 states. The outbreak, which has sickened more than 120 people and killed one, has been linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona region.

Here are the foods that Marler said scared him the most on the menu:

Salads

Salads

Callie Ahlgrim/INSIDER

Your healthy choice is actually one of the riskier options on the menu at chain restaurants.

“I'd eat sushi before I ate a salad,” Marler said. “I wouldn't eat it at a 7-11, but I've eaten sushi at a good sushi restaurant.”

While cooking veggies and meat can kill germs, salads bring together a lot of raw foods that have had countless opportunities for contamination. Restaurants that buy pre-chopped lettuce from suppliers put themselves at even greater risk.

“Not every lettuce leaf in the field is contaminated E. coli, but some of them are,” Marler said of the risks of pre-washed, bagged lettuce. “And when you mix and match it at a processing facility and chop it up, you get what you get.”

Soft-serve ice cream

Soft-serve ice cream

FlipTable/Wikimedia

Cleanliness of ice and ice cream machines can cause huge problems when workers aren't following safety guidelines. There's a grossness factor of finding mold in soft-serve ice cream machines — but there are also real risks.

“There have been a number of cases linked to listeria, where listeria will get into the inner workings of these ice cream machines and kill people,” Marler said.

Rare Meat

Marler agrees with known-germaphobe President Trump on at least one thing: well-cooked meat is the way to go.

“Skip the medium hamburger and get it well done, and just add a little ketchup like the president,” he said.

According to the expert, meat needs to be cooked to 160 degrees throughout to kill bacteria that could cause E. coli or salmonella.

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