Avoid High-Risk Foods

Reviewed by Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN
hot dog

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Download: The Safe Food Choices Tip Sheet

Everyone is at risk for food poisoning, but some people are more vulnerable to its effects, including older adults, young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. That's why it's important to make wise food choices and always safely handle food.

Avoid High-Risk Food:
  • Raw or undercooked meat or poultry
  • Raw or undercooked fish, shellfish or food containing raw or undercooked seafood such as sashimi, sushi or ceviche
  • Refrigerated smoked fish
  • Partially cooked seafood such as shrimp and crab
  • Unpasteurized, or raw, milk
  • Foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs
  • Raw sprouts
  • Unwashed fresh vegetables (including lettuce and salads)
  • Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized, or raw, milk: Feta, Brie, Camembert, Blue-veined, Queso fresco
  • Hot dogs, deli and luncheon meats that have not been reheated to 165°F
  • Unpasteurized, refrigerated pâtés or meat spread.

Choose Low-Risk Foods:

  • Most premade foods from grocery stores such as Caesar dressing, premade cookie dough or packaged eggnog (because they are typically made with pasteurized eggs)
  • Canned or shelf-stable pâtés or meat spreads
  • Canned fish and seafood
  • Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese, mozzarella and soft cheeses that are clearly labeled "made from pasteurized milk."

Safe Food Handling Tips

Everyone should practice safe food handling at home and follow the four food safety steps — wash, separate, cook and refrigerate.

Learn more about safe food handling for those vulnerable to food poisoning. See related articles on pregnant women, older adults and younger children.

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