10 Unexpected Ways to Get Food Poisoning

Not Washing Your Hands
This cooking school student has learned the importance of hand-washing before preparing food. Bambu Productions/Getty Images

Precious few habits or steps will reduce your risk of food poisoning more than washing your hands before, in the midst of and after preparing food [source: Beach]. The thing about E. coli and other foodborne illness-causing germs (or any germs, for that matter) is that they're invisible. So even if your hands look clean as a whistle, they could actually be breeding some pretty nasty stuff. Common chores like using the bathroom and changing diapers are obvious ways that fecal germs are transferred to the hands. However, many other activities, like touching a contaminated surface, petting an animal or handling raw meat (which sometimes sports visually undetectable animal poop) can set you up for a world of hurt [source: CDC].

Fortunately, proper handwashing is as easy as singing "Happy Birthday." Seriously, experts recommend scrubbing with soap and water for about 20 seconds (roughly the same amount of time it takes to sing the popular ditty). Dry hands with a clean towel and voila! Germ-free hands that'll reduce your risk of foodborne illness by a pretty wide margin [source: Beach].