Attorney Bill Marler has seen it all. In his two-decade long career working on food poisoning cases, there are certain foods that Marler just won't eat anymore. Fortunately for us, Marler spills his secrets on what he just won't do. So read on! It might save you an evening by the toilet trying to purge your delicious and possibly deadly dinner.
Oysters are pretty much a no brainer. "Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that's in the water. If there's bacteria in the water it'll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I've seen a lot more of that over the last five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It's simply not worth the risk," says Marler.
Marler credits the increase in oyster-induced food poisoning cases with the rise in water temperatures. Warmer waters means more microbial growth which means more chance of food-borne illness. Yuck! Thanks global warming.
Precut fruit seems like a wonderful modern convenience, but they could lead to super inconvenient food poisoning. Marler avoids precut fruit "like the plague." According to Marler, the extra handling and processing of the fruits equals more chances for someone to contaminate the fruit you eventually eat.
Instead, Marler will purchase whole fruit, then eat it within a few days of purchase to avoid listeria, which grows at the temperature of your refrigerator. "We've gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food—bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that. Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn't worth the risk," says Marler.
Sprouts might be one of the most suprising items on Marler's list, but sprouts have been the cause of numerous bacterial outbreaks. In the past 20 years, sprouts have been responsible for over 30 outbreaks, including salmonella and E.coli. Yikes!
In 2014 alone, 19 people were hospitalized with salmonella poisoning from eating sprouts. "There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination. Those are products that I just don't eat at all," says Marler.
Steak tartare is a fancy delicacy, but it's one that Marler won't indulge in. Marler advocates against ordering a steak any rarer than medium well. Why? Per Marler, in order to kill the bacteria that causes E. coli or salmonella, meat needs to be cooked to 160 degrees.
"The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that's on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it," said Marler. So the next time you bite into a juicy burger, make sure it's properly cooked. Otherwise you'll be biting into some juicy salmonella as well!
In the early 1980s and '90s, salmonella was an epidemic thanks in part to raw eggs. Even though Marler says that the chance of getting food poisoning from "the perfect food" is much lower. However, he still won't partake in a raw, runny yolk.
Salmonella contamination in eggs is still a thing that we have to contend with. In 2010, there were about 2,000 cases of salmonella contamination in eggs reported. Sorry, Rocky. It looks like Marler won't be trying your diet anytime soon!
Raw milk and juice is starting to become more and more popular, as pasteurization also processes out some of the nutritional value in the juice or milk. But according to Marler, "There's no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization." Marler argues that pasteurization is an important safety measure, and skipping it can potential contaminate the beverages with parasites, bacteria and viruses.
In 1996, Marler fought against Odwalla as the legal representative for several children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) from drinking unpasteurized apple juice. HUS is caused by E.coli infections and can be linked to kidney failure. In 1998, Odwalla was ordered to pay a $1.5 million fine, and another $12 million to the victims in 2000.