September 12th, 2012
08:45 PM ET
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For the last 20 years, attorney Bill Marler has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States, securing $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other illnesses linked to tainted food. Marler is an outspoken advocate for food safety, and maintains the Food Safety Site and the award-winning Marler Blog.

He's picked up a safety tip or two along the way - as well as a definitive personal do-not-eat list.

Bill Marler: 6 tips for safer food shopping, storage, preparation and buying

After 20 years of doing this, I think consumers need to consider eating a "contact sport."

1. Always mistrust claims that some type of food is safer or better for you than other food. Someone is usually hiding something from you.

2. Be on guard and do not be afraid to wash your hands or wipe down a grocery cart.

3. Pay attention to cross-contamination in your shopping and your kitchen. Use the plastic bags in the store to keep food separate.

4. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

5. Wash your produce well and cook your meat even hotter.

6. When going out to eat, it is OK to check the restaurant's safety record and to send back food that is not properly prepared. Your life may depend on it.

Marler's do-not-eat list

People ask me all the time what I do not eat. Here is my list: raw milk, unpasteurized juices, sprouts, ground meat of any kind, bagged leafy green and food that is processed so much that you question if it is food.

Information in the gallery above provided by CNN Health

Consumer resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration's Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
FDA Food Safety
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Education

How sprouts make you sick
The other E. coli threat? Raw milk
What? Chicken butt. Why there's salmonella in your eggs
Tainted food – a sticky situation for airline travelers
Mad cow disease confirmed in California

More on food poisoning from CNN Health and all foodborne illness coverage on Eatocracy

Watch CNN Newsroom weekdays 9am to 3pm ET and weekends. For the latest from the CNN Newsroom click here.

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Filed under: E. coli • Eatocracy TV • Food Safety • Listeria • Mad Cow • Recalls • Salmonella • Tainted Food • Television • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Theo Faessler

    Hi there! This article could not be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I will send

    November 22, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  2. Kelly Croftan

    Wash your hands both before and after meal. Select the food based upon your health and do not over cook the food.

    September 17, 2012 at 3:30 am |
  3. Primal 4 Life

    This dude is an idiot, period.

    September 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  4. WasteOfMyTime

    CNN got rooked on this one. This guy gets free advertising. CNN should have consulted some real experts.

    The best advice FROM a lawyer is "don't trust a lawyer". And even that bit of advice will cost you !

    September 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  5. DavidLevinsn

    Glad I read this! I know I always take all of my advice regarding what to eat from lawyers!

    September 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  6. janetlaw

    Wash your hands frequently. Buy, clean and cook your own food. Eat out rarely. Pretty simple – am 52 and never had food poisoning.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  7. Chris

    I am an attorney and my father is food scientist/microbiologist. Always defer to the scientist on questions like this. Attorneys are not the trained professionlals with expertise in the field. They have to understand the legal concepts and much of the material in order to be effective at their job, but are by no means experts themselves.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  8. leitot

    Wait, so how does his get his green leafy stuff then? Personally I was getting food poisoning almost twice a year in the four or so years before I stopped eating meat. I was mainly a chicken person and I used to eat out a lot (busy early-twenties lifestyle, no time to cook). The last time it happened was the result of some chicken tikka masala in a very upscale Indian restaurant in lower Manhattan. After that I gave up all meat except for (wild-caught) fish. I also consume green smoothies daily made with spinach and kale from a bag (Trader Joe's). I have not had food poisoning since becoming a pescatarian, and that happened in May 2008. Not to say that fish doesn't have its risks. Just relating a personal story since I noticed such a huge difference in my own tummy :)

    September 14, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • MarileeBob

      Buying fresh leafy greens, that are not pre-bagged. Pre-bagged produce is often tainted. I only buy fresh produce, never anything that comes pre-cut in packaging. Why would you want to, it only takes a second to wash and cut a fresh bunch of spinach or kale, and it tastes better fresh.

      September 14, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  9. Accurate data

    Funny that the graphic on listeria notes 500 deaths annually by listeria, citing the cdc. But the cdc website (here: ) denotes that the largest outbreak of listeria amounted to only 8 deaths.

    Although implied by this same graphic, there is no evidence that listeriosis has ever been caused by raw milk in the United States (see Steingarten 2002).

    September 14, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  10. Kay

    He won't eat certain types of foods because they might be contaminated, but he recommends sending food back in a restaurant if it's not properly prepared?? Doesn't he know what some restaurant cooks DO to food that's sent back?? Hint: You'd never ever want o eat it...

    September 14, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Special Kay

      Kay, if you're concerned about what restaurants are doing to your food if you send it back, go to a different place. You probably don't want to or shouldn't be eating there anyway.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  11. An

    While food safety and food poisoning are serious issues, many people who think they've had food poisoning probably have not, especially if they claim it was from a restaurant. Eating somewhere and then getting sick does not constitute food poisoning. It could be any number of things, from previously being ill, to transmitted infections from workers to customers, to just plain food not agreeing with you. Health departments are usually pretty good an investigating these kinds of things, and often will shut places down if they believe practices have led to food poisoning. It's not naive on my part, it's just the truth. If you think you've had food poisoning, see a physician. If it turns out to be true, then trace the source. It's somewhat comical to see people post on loads of restaurant reviews online that they got food poisoning there, which, if true, would probably mean the place would have shut down for a while or permanently. Health departments do not take these matters lightly.

    September 14, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • rhobere

      This is completely true. When I used to work in the food industry we would get people calling and threatening to sue because of food poisoning thirty minutes after they ordered their food and it happened all too often. food poisoning takes at minimum 4 hours and as long as 8 hours to start showing symptoms. If you're getting sick to your stomach within half an hour, you probably just ate too much, too fast. There was one guy that was especially hostile because his five year-old kid got "food poisoning." He didn't think that maybe any five year-old would get sick if they eat an entire foot long hotdog covered in chili and cheese plus a side of fried potatos plus a milkshake.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  12. SixDegrees

    How is this guy a "pro" food expert? His claim to fame is as an attorney who has won suits against food manufacturers. We don't refer to ambulance chasers as "health care professionals" and we shouldn't mistake a lawyer for an expert on food safety, either.

    September 14, 2012 at 5:13 am |
    • GreatGooglyMoogly

      But he had to have studied food safety extensively - lots of reading and interviewing experts - in order to win those cases. So he may not be a doctor or nutritionist, but I'd still listen to him.

      September 14, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Paula

      I am an attorney and I agree.

      September 14, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  13. Brian

    Funny that she won't drink unpasteurized juices. I won't drink them if they've been pasteurized. It kills the nutrition.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:57 am |
    • Brian

      I think she's misinformed and/or misguided.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  14. Nicole

    Sprouts are one of my favorite foods. I haven't eaten it since I heard of the ecoli risks, but I do wonder if growing sprouts at home can be done safely. Probably not, but, meh.

    September 14, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • rhobere

      there's nothing inherently dangerous about sprouts. its the packaging/letting them sit around for an unknowable amount of time that makes them unsafe. you'll be fine if you grow them yourself.

      September 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • Rex Peterson

        Check out the data from the German sprout food poisoning epidemic. If I remember correctly, it was ecoli on sprouts grown in high humidity at warm temperature.... a great bacteria incubation environmnet and also easily duplicated at various times of the year.

        September 16, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Techsupport

      Yeah, just make sure the seeds are cleaned and come from a trusted source.

      September 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  15. Julie

    I'm surprised that sashimi wasn't on his list – but I suppose worms don't kill you, they just make you wish someone else would.
    I agree with him on principle though about his no-eat list. Ground meat isn't the best, esp. if it's undercooked or poor quality. I have long suspected that a substantial portion of Americas famous tummy troubles for which we gobble stomach pills is caused by mild food poisoning from the junk we eat.
    This isn't to say that I'm a food snob. Cook ground meat super well, if you can, buy whole beef and have it ground.
    Also, raw milk produced by a home-owned cow, or a small reputable dairy is likely safe. It's the mechanized large scale farming practices that I think cause a lot of problems.
    Still, the best meat is whole meat and less of it. Rice, beans and peanut butter have sustained many fine people either by preference or economic necessity.
    Sadly, fruit and veg tainted by stuff seems increasingly to be a major culprit in cases of food-bourne illness. That isn't so easy to put on a list. But it's why salad bars top MY personal list of no-eat zones.

    September 14, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Worms? In sashimi? What sort of infectious or parasitic worms affecting humans are present in saltwater fish? Please be specific.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:14 am |
      • lagne

        I consume sushi regularly – I'm a chef, and my boyfriend is a sushi chef – so I'm afraid of raw fish. But it's true that saltwater fish CAN be infected with parasites... like Paragonimus westermanii ("Oriental lung fluke") from crab... Capillaria philippinensis and Anisakis simplex ("herring/whale worm") from various saltwater fish, especially mackerel... phocanemea (a type of roundworm)...

        Besides, not all seafood used in sashimi is saltwater seafood. On the contrary, salmon, snapper (can be fresh or salt), yellowtail, freshwater eel, and varieties of crustacean and mollusk are freshwater. I stick with saltwater fish.

        September 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
        • lagne

          *NOT afraid of raw fish. Haha.

          September 14, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Worms? What sort of infectious or parasitic worms affecting humans are present in saltwater fish? Please be specific.

      September 14, 2012 at 5:15 am |
  16. dirtypantieslover

    i have been eating and preparing food since i was in junior high school. since i am now an adult, my logic tells me i am a qualified food safety handler.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  17. dc893

    "For the last 20 years, attorney Bill Marler has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States, securing $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other illnesses linked to tainted food."

    People sue for anything. You got sick get over it.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • David

      Sorry. Not when its gross negligence. I almost died from salmonella when I was just 23. I was sick for six day, throwing up and the other end, losing 20 pounds in 6 days. Then I went to the hospital. Doctor said if I waited one more day I would have died. If you are in the BUSINESS of handling food, you are responsible for your customers safety.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
      • Keith

        Not to excuse wherever you got the illness but...Why did you wait 6 days to seek medical help? If you went to the doctor on day 2 or 3 you would not have faced the risk you did.

        September 14, 2012 at 10:31 am |
        • K

          My mother was in the emergency room the day after she started getting sick and died an week later anyway so generalizations don't really work when it comes to foodborne illnesses.

          September 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  18. Dom

    Mr Marler sounds like a no-fun posse; I'll take my burgers medium rare, please.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • skeptical

      what a bunch of bologna! does this person even shop or cook? I doubt it bc he knows nothing about food safety or nutrition.

      September 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • Rick

        And you know right? And you are an expert because?????

        September 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Layne

      He may live another 60 years due to his diet, but he might not enjoy them due to his diet, too.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
      • An

        Because his diet is so restrictive? LOL. He's got like 5 things on the list. I mean, I know personally I would just DIE if I couldn't have my sprouts!!!! The only thing that's bizarre about his comments are the processed foods. They may not be good for you, but more than likely they are not very likely to give you food poisoning.

        September 14, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  19. Josie

    I've had raw milk growing up, eaten cookie dough with raw eggs in it, drank egg nog (and yes even the none alcoholic type has eggs in it), had locally grown beef and fresh eggs. Guess what, pretty sure I am just fine. I do cook chicken and pork to the correct temp, I do wash my hands between prepearing certain foods (years of working in a kitchen gets you in that habit)...and I do like hamburgers and such. Personally we all are going to die eventually and there is such a thing as over protecting yourself against bactaria, most people can fight off diseases if they are healthy to begin with.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  20. WellDarn

    I too clicked on the link under the impression that the "food expert" was just that and NOT an attorney.

    September 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Buck

      That was definitely false information. An attorney that represents clients that have been affected by foodborne illnesses can NOT be considered by default an expert in providing food safety tips.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Pendy

      Maybe if you'd read the first sentence of the article.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
      • Buck

        Pendy, the first sentence of this article states he's an attorney and that's exactly what we both say in our comments. We are also both referring to the link on the main page which was titled "Foods a safety expert won't eat." Even the title on this page, "Food safety tips from a pro" is entirely misleading. It's like calling someone a medical expert who isn't actually a doctor but is instead an attorney that represents victims of malpractice.

        September 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  21. glj

    I completely disagree with the author on ground meat in general. It is a matter of how well you cook the meat.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • bG

      But at the same time, meat (or any other food) that has been infected for a long time can have toxins and spores that survive the cooking process and cause trouble. So, you still have to be careful: shouldn't defrost a turkey on the counter for two days, take it out of the freezer and into the fridge (I alway buy a spare aluminum cooking pan to prevent any leaks contaminating the fridge).

      September 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
      • lagne

        As someone who IS actually a nationally-certified food safety manager and chef (unlike the guy in this article.. sigh.. is it really so easy to represent yourself as an expert anymore?), I get his "ground meat" phobia, and I share it. For me, it's the whole "pink slime" thing – the product is made from cast-off meat trimmings including glands, connective tissue, and rotting meat (the latter is the main reason the product is washed in ammonia – to kill the smell). Connective tissue has no nutritional value, and renders your final product less nutritious than REAL ground beef. Plus the "rot" factor. I consider it much more potentially unsafe than conventional ground beef. If I use ground beef, I grind it myself.

        September 14, 2012 at 10:44 am |
        • Ellie

          Hi Lagne, what kind of beef do you grind for your ground beef and will the butcher at my local grocery (kroger) do this for me? I'm very interested. But, I need some more info! Thanks,

          September 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
        • Rex Peterson

          Do you food safety guys have to do continuing education?. You need serious help on the "ammonia" thing. Food is never washed in ammonia, despite the shoddy reporting this past summer. Ammonia hydroxide gas can kill bacteria present onf fruits and vegetables which is why the producer of lean finely texturred beef thought it would be a good idea to pass his ground beef product through an ammonia hydroxide atmosphere.
          I recommend you read the appropriate posts on feedyardfoodie.

          September 16, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  22. c s

    Many cases of "flu" is actually food poisoning. Cross contamination is quite common because anyone preparing food might handle several different type of food without washing their hands. Simple rule ALWAYS wash your hand between handling different types of food. I would guess that almost everyone gets some type of food poisoning several times a year. Mostly it is very mild and sometime it is severe. We live in a world full of microbes that are looking for food which just happens to be humans.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Greg@Ft.Hood

      I did food service for 20 years in the military and the services have very rigid sanitation standards. I still observe them in my kitchen. I was in Subway one day and a server dropped the knife on the floor, picked it up walked behind a wall and came back in 15 seconds and when her coworker asked if she washed it she silently mouthed, "No." Subway's sanitation in my opinion is terrible. They use the same knife to cut through every type of meat and the servers touch every type of meat; if one thing is contaminated there's a chance of cross contamination. I emailed Subways customer service and received no reply.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
      • Bart Flaster

        Coupon for a free foot long.

        September 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
      • Chris

        Greg, as someone who worked a Summer job there in high school, I can tell you it really matters who the specific owner of the place is. Where I worked, we were required to follow the regulations you were talking about, we changed out gloves any time we touched anything different, and had several knives for different types of foods.

        Having visited other restaurants in the chain however, I share your aversion to the common standard of food safety there.

        September 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
        • Chris

          Granted though, this was now nearly a decade ago, so it is entirely possible standards have changed in the interim.

          September 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  23. Holly

    if the place you eat has illegals handling your food – you are likely to have been exposed to brain parasites. there is an epidemic of brain parasites in CA – and CA is silent about it. illegals are bringing it in – and their children are exposing American children – this is extremely serious and CA is quiet about it for obvious reason. brain parasite are spreading across the USA as illegals spread across the USA.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Jo

      Wow...that's a pretty smart parasite if it knows only to spread itself via illegal immigrants but not the legal ones...I guess that's because it lives in the brain, eh?

      September 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • MrHighMighty

      Holly, get to a doctor quick! Your brain is already infected. And watch out for zombies.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • jmama


      September 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • harris

      what a pathetic racist moron....

      September 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • adam

      is that how you contracted them?

      September 14, 2012 at 4:51 am |
    • Holly, you're special

      Wow......a bigot and stupid to boot. Killer combination there Holly. Please share more of your "wisdom". And while you're at it, please adjust the foil hat you're wearing. I think your reception is fuzzy.

      September 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  24. Guest

    The worst food poisoning of my life was courtesy of Taco Bell.

    I eat sprouts, bagged greens, cider from the farm stand, and ground meat all the time. Never got sick from any of it.

    Maybe there's something to be said for the "hygiene hypothesis". If you don't keep your immune system wrapped up in cotton wool, you don't have to worry about those terrible horrible un-wiped shopping carts.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bart Flaster

      Worst case of the sharts ever.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  25. Eric

    Mmmm, love steak tartare topped with an egg yolk.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • sebastian

      i agree!

      September 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  26. Ludwig

    What exactly is wrong with eating ground meat? It is used to make hamburgers, meatballs, sausage, meatloaf, tacos (burritos, etc), meat sauce, and a variety of other things. Just like anything, if it is cooked properly it is just fine. If we avoided all the foods that have any chance of causing health problems we would all starve to death.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • c s

      Most ground meat is not the product of a single animal. Grinding machines are not cleaned very often. Instead hundreds or even thousands of different animals are grounded using the same machine. If just one animal contaminates the grinding machine with microbes, then all of the rest of the animals being grounded in the machine will become contaminated too. Almost all of the ground meat in the US is prepared this way.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • cljahn

      Microbes are found on the outside surfaces of meat, where they are likely to be incinerated in the cooking process; grinding the meat puts those microbes inside the food, where the heat of cooking isn't as extreme, allowing them to survive to be ingested as active microbes.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
      • K

        Thank you for writing one of only a couple of actually intelligent comments on the article... thank you for saying something informed and useful instead of the droves of comments that only show ignorance of the subject matter. If they or someone they know hasn't gotten critically ill or died from eating bagged lettuce, ground beef, sprouts or cantaloupe then it will likely happen in time and then they won't feel so smug about the subject. I cross the street and haven't been hit by a bus before but I'd like to have someone clue me in if one is coming toward me. I have however lost a parent to a national foodborne illness outbreak and therefore have a little different insight about where the risks from our national food supply are concentrated and how inadequately the public are informed. They can make their jokes and think it's funny until it's their loved one in the ground. You shouldn't have to lose a loved one to benefit from this information but since those without a reason to care, yet, refuse to listen when warned... the outbreaks will just keep killing our very young, very old and the immune compromised by cancer or chemotherapy of any age. And, while I'm on the subject, if you google the food safety expert in this article you will find a little more about him and why he is now considered an expert in food safety. If your toddler died from eating a bite of fast food from a drive through you'd be looking for this man and his expert knowledge and wondering why your "common sense" didn't save your child's life.

        September 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  27. skippydog

    I don't know if this counts but one time I ate 2 microwaved 7-11 burritos before a 8 hour plane ride and I regretted it. (so did everybody sitting near me)

    September 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  28. msp

    There is no such thing as 100% safe. Never did and never will. People have been dying of food poisoning since before we climbed down from trees. It is part of nature, raw food, healthy food or not.

    Use common sense and avoid what you can avoid. The alternative is worse.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • ORChuck

      MSP has offered a welcome dose of sanity in all of this.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  29. Ben

    It is a sad day when we can't trust any of the food we find at the store. The fact that you can't drink raw milk or fruit juice in this country is appalling. We're supposed to be the world leaders and we get some of the worst food. But hey, we get it cheap!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Ludwig

      You can drink raw milk, you're just rolling the dice with nasty things like listerosis, typhoid, tuberculosis, diptheria, etc. This has always been the problem with raw milk, which is why pasteurization was such a big deal when it came around in the mid 19th century. Yes, there were (and are) many people who drink raw milk in this country and others who are perfectly healthy, but there are also many who drink raw milk and get sick or die because of it. Raw milk is especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems like older adults and sick children. Many people join cooperatives where they own part of the cow and get raw milk that way, but even if you know the exact conditions under which the milk is being produced I would still be wary. As I said, many people do drink raw milk with no trouble, but I can eat fatty foods and ho-hos all day without gaining any weight or having trouble with my cholesterol or blood pressure. That doesn't mean I would recommend that diet to everyone – quite the opposite, in fact! If it works for you, great, but I'll take the peace of mind pasteurization brings.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • c s

      The chemist Louis Pasture invented the pasteurization process to prevent microbes in food from making people sick. Drinking raw milk is a gamble because it can be so easily contaminated during the milking of the cow. Think about milking a cow and standing in manure while doing it. Cows defecate all the time and walk around in it. Trying to keep cows microbe free before milking is impossible.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
      • Keith

        Actually, he invented it to make the wine making process more efficient and predicatble. The health benefits in other foods and beverages were just a happy side effect.

        September 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  30. clark

    Hey! Go eat s*it n die. Always been that way, always will be.

    September 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • clark

      And throw down a "5 Hour Energy" while yer at it. At least maybe you'll look sharp n alert in the box.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |
      • clark

        Most people die from eating too damn much, not from eating poison food.

        September 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |
        • clark

          Yes, I actually talk to myself a lot.

          September 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
        • clark


          September 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  31. whorhay

    I'm careful about my food safety but things like raw eggs don't scare me. I remember a home eco teacher wigging out once because myself and another kid were licking the beaters after mixing up some brownies. You would have thought we'd sick up and die right there from her hysterics. My family also had whole unprocessed milk in the home for a number of years when I was a kid, I didn't like it myself as I'm lactose intolerant, but I don't think anyone ever go sick. That kind of thing is likely to be more dangerous if you were buying it that way from a large operation, but when you squeezed it out of a cow yourself the hour before it's likely to be okay. Ground meats are much the same, by virtue of being processed in factory conditions they are more likely to contain contaminants, but just cook it to the right temp and it's just fine.

    PS Any chef that would burn a steak to the point that it's considered Medium should be relieved of their duty!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • c s

      Luck plays a big role in whether you will get sick from eating raw foods. Maybe you will change your mind if you get a severe case of food poisoning from eating raw foods. Salads are raw foods that are recommended by nutritionist but there is some risk in eating them. Life and death are intertwined.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  32. PARKER

    I forgot to mention that I have been eating from dented cans all my life also !!!! Not sick once and look at the money I saved. Also eat leafy greens daily without one problem over the last 50 years ???? It's healthy and tasty and goes along with my rare meat I consume often. I also love liver, heart, beef and moose tounge, headcheese and pickeled pigs feet jelly. Try it all and you will love it also !!!

    September 13, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Julie

      Parker, you are eating how we should be eating. And there is a difference between raw milk and veggies coming from CAFO cows and sprayed with their manure. If you have healthy cows and use their manure for fertilizer, you don't have these outbreaks. These illnesses are caused by the misuse and abuse of our environment. Source well, and you are fine.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Julie

      Oh and good for you for eating all of the "nasty bits." That's how the Inuit survived on an almost 100% meat diet. Eat those parts and you get full nutrients. I am so thrilled to see someone doing it "old school" and the right way. I am learning to do things this way for the sake of my kids and even got the ole liver out....I don't love it, but it's healthy. Next.....tongue or something else if I can source it.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Alverant

      Actually the author specified leafy greens in bags (where you can't tell if some of them have gone bad) and not leafy greens in general. It sounds like from your letter you get your greens in bunches from the produce section.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  33. F. Schrodinger

    Use common sense. Wash your hands. Wash all produce. It may be pesticide free but what about bird pooh? Use your nose; bad things smell bad (or different). Use your eyes: does it look weird? Use your hands; does it feel "off"? Unless you grow your own food and know exactly how it's handled, assume it's dirty. However, I have NEVER been sick from restaurant leftovers or food taken un-refrigerated on trips.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  34. anon

    This article contains nothing but sweeping, unsupported generalizations. Mostly it just makes Mr. Marler sound like a paranoid headcase who won't eat potato chips with his bare hands without first taking a Biosafety Level IV decon shower. "Cook your meat even hotter?" You're right, Mr. Marler. From now on I'll only eat charcoal that's been microwaved on high for a minimum of ten minutes.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:20 am |
  35. PARKER

    I guess these experts have nothing else to do but scare people. I am 73 and eat anything and everything, without washing it, take food home from cafes all the time, eat eggs like candy daily, pick berries from the woods and eat most before I get home, eat rare meat always, and break every other rule for eating healthy, and I am healthy as a work horse. My doctor says not to change anything as I test great in all areas, so guess I will continue to be "unhealthy" in my eating habits since I have never been sick from what I eat. Enjoy what you eat and just use your head that God gave you about cleanliness. I believe it's called "common sense" ?????

    September 13, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Julie

      Listen to Parker, People, and read about what else he eats. Stop eating the crap in a box. It's not's a food-like product.

      September 13, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • JeramieH

      And for every instance of someone like you, there's somebody that died from food poisoning out there.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  36. Blake

    I understand the need to be cautious, but don't eat bagged leafy greens? People need much more of that, not someone advocating we eat less of it.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Celery

      The author didn't say "Don't eat spinach!" the author is saying don't eat spinach (etc) from bags.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • glj

      I believe the author is talking about 'salad in a bag'. Where the lettuce is precut. You cannot see all of the pieces and if they are going bad or not.

      September 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
      • A

        People also don't wash the bagged lettuce like they would a free head, so any contamination doesn't get taken care of like it would with unbagged produce.

        September 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  37. Chris

    Disappointed in the article. Not good at all. Everyone should take precautions with their food, but sometimes it really is the luck (or misfortune) of the draw and timing.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  38. Katie

    Wow, this guy should just live on his own farm and grow his own food. Here's my own list of food to avoid:
    1) Fast food of any kind
    2) Really cheap food – the stuff sold in discount stores; dented cans, expired products, and boxes with holes or that have been partially crushed
    3) Food whose ingredients have things you can't pronounce or more than two non-foods in the listing
    4) Any meat that I don't know the origin of (I always buy meat directly from a local farm – yes, it's more expensive, but it's a lot better quality and taste, the animals are treated more humanely and eat a diet they can tolerate, and I eat less meat overall that way...)

    And I'm about as much of an "expert" as the guy in the article...

    September 13, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • JeramieH

      So you don't eat foods that have cobalamins, phylloquinone, or pyridoxine in them?

      September 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  39. Julie

    Being mindful of bacteria is a good idea, but this author is advocating paranoia rather than common sense. Properly preparing and cooking your food, and properly storing leftovers, eliminates the majority of food poisoning risk.

    September 13, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Chris

      Agree. No ground meat of any kind? No sausage of ANY kind then. No processed food, which I wonder does that include veggie burgers and meat substitutes? Very weak article.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:10 am |
      • J

        Maybe he buys roasts and grinds his own meat

        September 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  40. unowhoitsme

    The entire western diet isn't real food. It's all processed food made with chemicals, preservatives, colorings that is killing Americans with cancer and heart disease. The average American consumes 1 gallon of preservatives per year, so when you die you won't need to be embalmed! Go back to eating Mother Nature's diet...foods in their original form. You'll be healthier and live longer. I've been doing this for 44 years and haven't stepped one foot into a doctor's office.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  41. Rob

    I was attacked by a cold left over Big Mac at midnight! It came out and blinded me with 2 all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. .wait. bad. I just woke up and started reading this article after watching Attack of the killer tomatoes. Thought the article was about foods that killed.....sorry CNN!

    September 13, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  42. works4me

    Mussels... I was chowing down on a huge bowl of them while at a restaurant in Long Island. The minute I bit into a bad one I knew it was all over. Within hours I thought I was going to die and for three days after. Never had them again...

    September 13, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  43. Kudu

    Fear mongering at its best! This is what CNN, other news media outlets and politicians are so great at. They take a grain of truth and blow it up so it urns into 10% truth and 90% exaggeration to fit their need. Food safety comes down to COMMON SENSE

    September 13, 2012 at 6:07 am |
    • schmo

      Common sense is not common anymore.. remember phones think for us now.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Dauntae

      The general public needs much more than common sense; some research on these major conventional food producing companies, the many chemicals in these foods and what it does to the human body, the health benefits of independent organic food producers, some self-discipline and consistency with the diet. Common sense is an understatement, we really need to stop purchasing our food and many other products without researching their true authenticity, health effects, quality and long-term effects. I bet many people don't even read the ingredients on the food labels or the nutrition and portion size.....people just pick out items they like, look at the price, if they can afford it toss it into the cart and keep it moving. There's so much more imperative than common sense here, because the government fails to be transparent in mass food production...they alter things to taste so good that people don't really want to care about what's in it or what it will really do to the body. I'd say, don't be a sheep, start doing some serious research and start supporting companies (independent organic food companies) that actually respect Americans and are not giving them illnesses just to continue driving Mercedes Benz's, living in mansions and all that...

      September 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  44. Sean

    More "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt", otherwise known as FUD.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:17 am |
  45. Food Poisoned

    I went to a food fair and ate a meatloaf that was sitting out too long in the warm sun. It was already late afternoon.
    Wow. That was so painful, I thought I was going to die. Watch out for food left out too long in the sun.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:12 am |
    • Julie

      Again....kind of a common sense thing. But you learned your lesson I assume.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  46. James

    people who live their lives based on CNN or Fox or whatever these so called 'experts' and their reports say... are losing out on life.

    i have been sick as a daying foaming snake bitten dog from food poisoning, twice in 28 years. both of the times, i followed the code correctly, someone in a restaurant didn't. Am I gonna stop eating out? Hell no! Am i gonna care where i eat? meh maybe, taco trucks still rule and many times i dont even wash my hands. but guess what, my body, god given, and nature designed, has DEFENSE system. so these experts can go fudge themselves with their non existant concerns in my world.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:54 am |
    • JeramieH

      Have you seen what trichinosis does with your defense system?

      September 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  47. rocinante

    Read a travel advisory some years back that strongly warned against any type of buffettes, as the food has an opportunity to sit around for looong periods of time and usually isn't kept hot enough, particularly if they are using those tiny little Sterno stoves.

    Also, never take seafood or chicken for "doggy bag" from a restaurant – unless you actually plan to give it to your dog. It'll go bad before you get it home and put it in the frig.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:35 am |
    • James

      bullcrap! i have taken fried fish and chicken to go that has say out in my car for at least an hour before i get home.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:55 am |
    • rocinante

      Fish goes bad in under 30 minutes, chicken not much longer. So, you are just lucky if you haven't gotten sick yet. I've had food poisoning. It's really not something you want to mess around with.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  48. Jacko

    Lobster , just about killed me!

    September 13, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  49. Food Safety Auditor

    Calling this shyster a "food safety expert" is a mammoth insult to those of us who really are food safety experts, like myself with a quarter century's worth of experience in the field. How about contacting me for your next legal article, CNN? I'm just as much an expert on the law as this person is on food safety.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • rocinante

      I agree, the article was lightweight.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • ClinT

      I study food and nutrition as a hobby and could have written a better article than this one. The first tip he gives in that numbered list makes me question his motives
      "1. Always mistrust claims that some type of food is safer or better for you than other food. Someone is usually hiding something from you."

      September 14, 2012 at 8:43 am |
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