If you're eating mixed greens right now, you might want to stop for a second, because news that a fourth of all food-borne illnesses come from leafy vegetables might put a bad taste in your mouth. It's surprising but true. A new study in the March issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases shows that an estimated 4.9 million of the 9.6 million food-borne illness each year come from vegetables, and about half of those cases are caused by salad supplies like lettuce and spinach. In fact, leafy greens are the number one cause for food-borne illnesses, more sensationally and frightfully known as food poisoning. Seafood, including shellfish which is infamous for making people sick, is actually the category that causes the least number of food-borne illnesses.
This new study is hardly a be-all, end-all account of the dangers of eating food. You should eat food, especially leafy greens, because they're very good for you. "It's important to understand that we didn't try to estimate the risk per dinner — in fact, the risk per dinner is very low," said Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The New York Times. Some foods are riskier than others, though. Poultry, the preferred home of very nasty bacteria like salmonella, is the deadliest, accounting for about 19 percent of the 1,451 deaths caused by food-borne illness between 1989 and 2008. And believe it or not, deli meat is the most dangerous food of all. Don't let us scare you away from your favorite Italian sub, though. You're probably still more resilient against food poisoning than you think. So you should go ahead and finish that salad. We just hope you washed the greens well.