Bill Marler, a lawyer who has specialized in food poisoning illnesses and high profile outbreaks for 20 years, revealed in January the six types of foods that he avoids.
Marler's list was originally published by Bottom Line Health and posted on his blog.
At the top of his list are unpasteurized (raw) milk and packaged juices, which goes back to an E. coli case surrounding unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice in 1996.
“There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization,” Marler told Bottom Line Health.
He also avoids raw sprouts.
“There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination," Marler said. "Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.”
However, he has no problem with properly-cooked sprouts.
Marler will not eat meat that is not well-done, including hamburgers and steaks.
"The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it,” Marler explained. “If it’s not cooked thoroughly to 160°F throughout, it can cause poisoning by E. coli and salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.”
Marler said that he avoids fruits and vegetables that are prewashed or precut "like the plague.” He believes that the more food is processed and handled the greater chance it has of being contaminated.
Marler won't eat undercooked or raw eggs either.
“I think the risk of egg contamination is much lower today than it was 20 years ago for salmonella, but I still eat my eggs well-cooked," he said.
Raw oysters and other kinds of raw shellfish are off his list as well.
“Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water,” Marler said. “If there’s bacteria in the water it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I’ve seen a lot more of that over the last five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It’s simply not worth the risk.”
However, Marler will give a pass to sushi with some conditions: “If you’re going to eat sushi, spend the money and eat at a good sushi restaurant.”
Marler recently told The Washington Post about food safety in the United States:
From a safety standpoint, I don’t necessarily think that we’re the safest food system in the world, but neither do I think that we’re the worst food safety system in the world. We do have a fairly amazing ability to surveil foodborne illnesses.
Not necessarily to find out why they happened, or what we could do to prevent them, but we’re pretty good at keeping track of people who have positive stool cultures.
I speak all over the world on food safety issues, and almost everyone around the world uses the CDC foodborne illness statistics, and then just extrapolates those onto their populations.