Leafy greens top the list of the 10 riskiest foods, according to a study released Tuesday from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. According to the group’s report, the foods, listed in descending order, that present the greatest risk of food-borne illness are: leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts and berries. The report implicates those foods in 40 percent of all food-borne illness outbreaks.
"Outbreaks give the best evidence of where and when the food safety system is failing to protect the public," says CSPI staff attorney Sarah Klein, the lead author of the report. "It is clearly time for FDA's reliance on industry self-regulation to come to an end. The absence of safety plans or frequent inspections unfortunately means that some of our favorite and most healthful foods also top the list of the most risky."
Read the full release from CSPI.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest often draws criticism as the self-appointed “food police,” because the group works to influence legislation and public policy to force its perceptions of healthy eating onto consumers. Reports like this are sure to draw headlines, and this one became the lead story on Yahoo.com shortly after the news release went out. Sensational headlines that follow tend to exaggerate the risk while ignoring the nutritional benefits of foods such as fresh vegetables. We’ve been there. The group has attacked the meat sector, and beef in particular, on plenty of occasions, so it’s kind of nice to be spared by this particular report. BUT … the beef industry, like the rest of the food system, must continue to invest and find ways to protect and improve the safety of our products. As evidenced by the New York Times article last weekend, food-borne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 pose a genuine threat to human health, and to consumer confidence in the food-production system. — John Maday