September 12th, 2012
08:45 PM ET
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For the last 20 years, attorney Bill Marler has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States, securing $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other illnesses linked to tainted food. Marler is an outspoken advocate for food safety, and maintains the Food Safety Site and the award-winning Marler Blog.

He's picked up a safety tip or two along the way - as well as a definitive personal do-not-eat list.

Bill Marler: 6 tips for safer food shopping, storage, preparation and buying

After 20 years of doing this, I think consumers need to consider eating a "contact sport."

1. Always mistrust claims that some type of food is safer or better for you than other food. Someone is usually hiding something from you.

2. Be on guard and do not be afraid to wash your hands or wipe down a grocery cart.

3. Pay attention to cross-contamination in your shopping and your kitchen. Use the plastic bags in the store to keep food separate.

4. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

5. Wash your produce well and cook your meat even hotter.

6. When going out to eat, it is OK to check the restaurant's safety record and to send back food that is not properly prepared. Your life may depend on it.

Marler's do-not-eat list

People ask me all the time what I do not eat. Here is my list: raw milk, unpasteurized juices, sprouts, ground meat of any kind, bagged leafy green and food that is processed so much that you question if it is food.

Information in the gallery above provided by CNN Health

Consumer resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration's Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts
FDA Food Safety
United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Education

How sprouts make you sick
The other E. coli threat? Raw milk
What? Chicken butt. Why there's salmonella in your eggs
Tainted food – a sticky situation for airline travelers
Mad cow disease confirmed in California

More on food poisoning from CNN Health and all foodborne illness coverage on Eatocracy

Watch CNN Newsroom weekdays 9am to 3pm ET and weekends. For the latest from the CNN Newsroom click here.

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Filed under: E. coli • Eatocracy TV • Food Safety • Listeria • Mad Cow • Recalls • Salmonella • Tainted Food • Television • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. dontforgetaboutparasites

    I recently found out that I had foot-long parasitic round worms living in my gut for the last 6-9 months! They are very common in third world, tropical countries but very rare in the United States due to our regulations that do not allow produce to be grown in soil fertilized by human feces. I have not been out of the country for over a year and I have never been to a third world or tropical country. The doctors were baffled and I was in a great deal of pain intermittently for the better part of a year. CHECK YOU FOOD SOURCES.

    May 27, 2014 at 11:56 am |
  2. twiceshynow

    Picked up e.coli bladder infection. All docs at UC Davis were willing to do was just enough to suppress it, even after I went onto renal failure from constant resurgence of infection any time I stopped antibiotics. Only now will they listen, but it doesn't mean I will have access to an aggressive antibiotic(abx)80% of abx in USA are fed to HEALTHY farm animals, so they'll survive in filthy, cramped conditions, & turn max. Profits. Yet it is the humans in this nation that literally can't get enough access to antibiotics to save our lives. Much of the tidal wave of renal failure we're seeing is simmering "sub clinical" infection. Meaning no fever, and slowly advancing damage.

    May 23, 2014 at 11:12 am |
  3. Woodwind

    I have followed my grandmother's advice for 66 years. No one in my family has had a food borne illness in 4 generations. Her advice, COOK YOUR FOOD. Nothing goes on my table that hasn't been fried, broiled, boiled, or baked. No pathogen can survive 165 degrees for 10 minutes.

    May 23, 2014 at 2:16 am |
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