1. Beansprouts / raw sprouts
Uncooked and lightly cooked sprouts – or more specifically the bacterial contamination of the seeds – have linked to more than 30 salmonella and E. coli outbreaks in the US since the 1990s. Offenders include alfalfa, mung bean, clover and radish sprout.
Marler says: “There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination. Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.”
2. Needle tenderised steak
A regular fixture in modern restaurants, needle tenderizing sees a steak pierced with needles to break down the muscle fibers and make it more tender. But, according to Marler, it can also transfer bugs from the surface to the interior of the meat.
When dining in a restaurant, Marler will ask if this is the chef’s process. If it is, he orders his steak well-done. If not, he’ll opt for medium-well.
3. Pre-washed fruit and vegetables
Yes, sorry, bagged salad is also a no-go on Marler’s watch, avoiding this sort of foodstuff “like the plague”. Instead he buys unwashed, uncut salad and vegetables in small amounts, eating it within three to four days to reduce the risk for listeria – a deadly bug that grows at refrigerator temperature. Not scary at all then.
“We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food – bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that. Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk.”
4. Raw or undercooked eggs
Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs. In fact, such is the danger they still pose, letting her put any sort of raw egg in her mouth should be avoided where possible.
“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.”
5. Raw oysters and other raw shellfish
Oh no, not seafood. Now he’s just being shellfish…
“Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water. 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.”
6. Unpasteurised (“raw”) milk or juice
7. Rare/medium rare burgers
“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.
“If it’s not cooked thoroughly to 160°F throughout, it can cause poisoning by E. coli and salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.”