Undercook your burger patties or leave out your potato salad for too long under the summer heat, and you could risk the chance of food poisoning. It's important to practice safe food handling at your next cookout or picnic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year 48 million Americans, or roughly one in six people, get sick from foodborne illnesses, and about 3,000 cases each year are deadly.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites and harmful chemicals can cause foodborne illnesses. A 2011 CDC report estimates that more than half of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths from foodborne pathogens in the U.S. are attributed to the virus Norovirus, commonly spread from sick people to food during handling due to improper handwashing. The bacterium Salmonella and the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are the most deadly pathogens and are usually caused by eating undercooked, contaminated meat.
In a recent Twitter chat hosted by ABC News chief health and medical correspondent Dr. Richard Besser, food-safety experts reveal that produce is the leading carrier of pathogens, but contaminated meat, fish and poultry can have far worse symptoms. When asked if sourcing food locally or abroad makes a difference, the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center responded that "where food comes from is less important than how it is handled". Those who are at greatest risk for food-borne illness include young children, the elderly, pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Check out the slideshow above to discover which foods cause the most foodborne-illness outbreaks and how to practice safe food handling in the summer.