Your grocery store is full of healthy foods that provide you with life-sustaining nutrients. It’s also filled with foods that could be harmful to you. When you think of what a dangerous food might be, you may consider obscure foods like puffer fish (yes, that’s on the list), but do you think about hot dogs, cheese, or even your basic chicken breast? Likely not. However, as it turns out, some of the most dangerous foods in the world seem quite innocuous—and they may be in your fridge right now.
We’re not talking about the potentially questionable concoction of meats and fillers that are used to make most mainstream hot dogs. No, the real danger with these iconic picnic foods comes as a choking hazard. Johns Hopkins Medicine points out that hot dogs are the leading cause of choking-related injuries in children under three years of age. Hot dogs account for about 17 percent of all choking cases. The shape of hot dog pieces, as well as the texture of the meat are a double whammy for choking. Quite simply, they’re hard to get down or out if you start to choke on them. Parents worried about this hazard are encouraged to chop the hot dogs into very fine pieces for their youngest kids.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75 percent of Escherichia coli (E. coli) poisoning incidents came from two food groups: vegetable row crops (like leafy greens) and beef. The data suggests they’re equally dangerous, and each year more than 2,000 people are hospitalized because of an E. coli infection. Plus, beef, as well as meats like chicken and pork, are among the leading contributors to Salmonella illnesses, too, the CDC says. Meats can be dangerous because bacteria from the animals’ guts can find their way to the meat, contaminating it before it even gets to your home. Since you can’t see the bacteria, you may eat it without knowing what’s coming. The best way to avoid this type of food borne illness is with a heat treatment (i.e. cooking it). The current recommendation is 160°F for ground beef and 145°F for steaks and roasts.