Spending your days thinking about food-borne illnesses that make people sick is surely enough to put you off certain foods.

It's definitely the case for Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler who has spent the last 20 years working as a food safety advocate in the US.

He's represented victims of major food poisoning cases against the likes of Wendy's and Taco Bell, and in the process, come up with a list of foods that you'll never find in his shopping trolley.

Marler has shared on his firm's blog Food Poison Journal the foods he refuses to eat and why.


1. Pre-cut produce

While buying fruit and vegetables that have already been sliced may seem like a great idea in terms of convenience, Marler advises avoiding them "like the plague".

The more food is processed and touched the more chance it has to be contaminated. Marler buys uncut, unwashed produce and never buys in bulk for fear of listeria. Instead, he'll only buy enough to last three to four days.

2. Raw sprouts

The likes of mung beans and alfalfa sprouts are popular additions to meals. But Marler says their seeds are prone to bacterial contamination and won't touch them unless they're cooked.

3. Undercooked meat

You may prefer your steak medium rare but it's not worth the risk, according to Marla. He says unless it's served up well done, the meat runs the risk of being contaminated with bacteria.

He advises it should be cooked thoroughly to 71C to avoid E.coli, salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.

4. Raw shellfish


Fans of fresh oysters will be sorry to hear Marler's verdict: "Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that's in the water," Marler wrote.

While rare, oysters can be the culprit in the spread of vibriosis, one of the most serious types of food poisoning.

5. Raw eggs

Aside from licking the spoon when baking, not many people have a soft spot for raw eggs, especially not Marler. In the 1980s in the US, dozens died and hundreds fell ill with salmonella contracted from eggs.

Today, the likelihood of getting sick with salmonella poisoning from eggs is low. However, the New Zealand Egg Producers Federation notes there is a slight risk.

Their website suggests care when handling eggs, "cooking them where possible, and taking particular care when recipes use raw eggs".


- nzherald.co.nz