Just about any food can become contaminated if handled improperly. However, foods rich in protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, and seafood, are frequently involved in foodborne illness outbreaks for two reasons:
- Protein-rich foods tend to be of animal origin. Some animals have microorganisms that can cause disease in humans if not properly cooked.
- Animal foods are rich in protein that bacteria break down into amino acids, which are an important nutrient source to some bacteria.
Bacteria also need moisture in order to survive and reproduce. Thus, they thrive in foods with high moisture content. These include starchy, egg-rich foods, and cream-based foods, such as potato or pasta salads, cream-based soups, and custard or cream pies.