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A food poisoning expert on the six foods he never eats

Having spent over 20 years working on food poisoning lawsuits, lawyer Bill Marler simply doesn’t eat certain foods any more.

HAVING SPENT OVER 20 years working on food-poisoning lawsuits in the US, Bill Marler simply doesn’t eat certain foods anymore.

The lawyer, who is taking suits against Mexican food outlet Chipotle after the chain’s E. coli and norovirus outbreaks, posted an article in the Food Poisoning Journal last weekend, outlining what foods he’s cut from his diet.

Having won more than $600 (€553) million for clients in foodborne-illness cases, Marler says his experiences convinced him these foods aren’t worth the risks.

Here are the foods that scare this expert the most…

1. Raw oysters

Marler says he has seen more foodborne illnesses linked to shellfish in the past five years than in the two preceding decades. The culprit: warming waters. As globally waters heat up, it produces microbial growth, which ends up in the raw oysters consumers are slurping down.

shutterstock_187471388 Source: Shutterstock/SARYMSAKOV ANDREY

2. Pre-cut or pre-washed fruit and veg

Marler says he avoids these “like the plague”. Convenience may be nice, but, as more people handling and processing the food means more chances for contamination, it isn’t worth the risk.

shutterstock_85184845 Source: Shutterstock/Dmitriy Bryndin

3. Raw sprouts

Sprout outbreaks are surprisingly common, with more than 30 bacterial outbreaks (primarily salmonella and E. coli) in the past two decades.

“There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination,” Marler says.

Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.

4. Rare meat

Sorry, chefs: Marler isn’t going to order his steaks any rarer than medium-well. According to the expert, meat needs to be cooked to 160 degrees throughout to kill bacteria that could cause E. coli or salmonella.

shutterstock_122700310 Source: Shutterstock/Gregory Gerber

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5. Uncooked eggs

For anyone who remembers the salmonella epidemic of the 1980s and early ’90s, this is a no-brainer. According to Marler, the chance of getting food poisoning from raw eggs is much lower today than it was 20 years ago — but he still isn’t taking any chances.

shutterstock_261683339 Source: Shutterstock/Mariana Aabb

6. Unpasteurised milk and juices.

A growing movement is encouraging people to drink “raw” milk and juices, arguing that pasteurisation depletes nutritional value. Marler says pasteurisation is not dangerous — but raw beverages can be, as skipping the safety step means an increased risk of contamination by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurisation,” he says.

- Kate Taylor

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