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Food Police. Too overzealous??

I often wonder if food safety guidlines are even close to being accurate. I've been breaking food laws my entire adult life and havn't had so much as an upset stomach. I mean not ONE single time have I gotten sick?? Here's a few of my weekly or even daily sins.

* I enjoy my eggs sunny side up. The runnier the better.
* I grill my burger's med/rare. Even leaning a bit more towards the rare side on most occasions.
* I often thaw food on the kitchen counter.
* I keep eggs until the carton is empty, ignoring the expiration dates.
* I let my steaks warm to room temperature for a least an hour before they hit the grill.
* I've used the same marinade i've soaked meat in, to touch up the meat as it nears doneness on the grill.
* I believe the only way to enjoy a great steak is bloody rare.
* I've left grocerys in the car for a few hours on a cool day.
* I leave Pizza out all night long and eat it the next morning.
* I've ate leftovers 4 or even 5 days after they were cooked.
* I've refrozen meat.

And yet i'm still alive??? Am I just real lucky? OR is the food police a bit overzealous?

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  1. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

    2 Replies
    1. re: babette feasts

      Or, as my son says: "What doesn't kill you makes you breakfast."

      1. re: ozhead

        I'm not sure if this is a kidnapping reference or left overs.

    2. A little bit of both. I wouldn't tempt fate with those marinades, if I were you; but I think a lot of the meat dangers are less relevant when you buy from a reliable, local source (as opposed to getting bulk purchases of ground beef from the discount supermarket chain).

      Otherwise, I've tempted fate too - I eat spoonfuls of raw cookie dough, I leave groceries in the car, I don't always re-wash bagged greens. No problems this far. The only time I've been sick was due to a casual chain restaurant.

      1 Reply
      1. re: piccola

        I eat chunks of my london broil raw. And lick the bowl of all my cheesecake batter. And eat some of my cookie dough before baking.

        Of course they're too zealous, it simply came out of protecting themselves from maniacally letigious customers.

      2. Ranger
        Remember: The 'Food Police', as you humerously refer to them, are not saying, if you do the things you mentioned, that you will definitely become ill. They are pointing out what COULD happen under those circumstances. For example, if you eat, out-all-night, pizza, Vs refrigerated leftover pizza, there is no doubt the non refrigerated pizza will have a higher bacteria count. than the pizza stored in the fridge. Whether or not it makes you ill, depends a great deal upon the ingredients, combined with the room temperature and, sometimes, how much you eat. It's more common sense /probability advice. The FP's are using proven rates of bacteria levels under certain conditions/time frames, to make their reccs. I've certainly broken many 'food laws' and lived to tell the tale, but I've done so knowing I am exposing myself to potentially higher probabilities of experiencing a "gotcha" moment. I'm sure we all have our own particular 'line holders.' I for one, would never eat expired eggs, nor would I use the same marinade, lthough I'm reasonably sure the marinade itself will kill/retard bacterial growth. I would never, ever refreeze thawed meat.
        . You also have to keep in mind that there are different levels sickness brought on by unsafe, or at least, somewhat risky food practices. Ranging from feeling 'blah' to being hospitalized after vomiting for 6 days straight, becoming dehydrated.and needing IV re-hydration Once someone experiences a real case of food poisoning, (And I'm not referring to the 24 hr stomach viruses that most people refer to as food poisoning) They become a lot more cautious.At least I did. You better believe I never again left a packet of fast food ceasar salad dressing out all night

        1. Well, I did it again. I just had two sunny side up eggs that were left out all night and expired on 10/3/07!!!!! I'm going to bed after working all night. I pray that I will wake up!!!!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ranger05

            Ranger... 10/3/07???... Gee you sure are testing the limits. :-}You're like the Evel Kneivel of questionable food choices! I sincerely hope you never, ever experience any repercussions from your risky ways, but if you do, at least you'll know who is to blame lol!
            You better check in with us when (if) you wake up so we know you made it ! :-}
            PS: Make a New Year's resolution to ditch those ancient eggs!

            1. re: Tay

              I hope that's using the American date format.

              1. re: Tay

                Eggs last a long time before going rotten -- and believe me, you will know it if you crack an egg and it's rotten.

                There are storage methods for eggs that will keep them for 6 months unrefrigerated.

                Basically, as somebody else noted below, the main problem with old eggs is their consistency changes -- the white becomes more watery.

                You don't get food poisoning from old eggs -- you get it from eggs that are tainted with bacteria, and this happens at the time the egg is laid and/or processed at the plant, not in your refrigerator.

              2. re: Ranger05

                From what I understand, eggs deteriorate in quality as they get older (the whites become more liquidy, etc.). But they won't catch salmonella from sitting around in the fridge or on the counter--they're either infected when the hen lays them or they're not. If the shell has cracks, I guess there could be a danger from bacteria. Otherwise, I think the shell is a pretty good preservative.

                I honestly don't know how long a good egg can go before it starts to rot--hard to tell that the egg was good in the first place without breaking it! Maybe someone out there knows...

                In any case, I keep my eggs on the counter, not in the fridge, sometimes use them past the expiration date, and I always lick the bowl when making cakes. And I consider myself a pretty cautious person, having had bad food poisoning before (from spoiled meat).

              3. Wow! I'm not the only one. I remember when there were not so many FP rules. Who knew that pizza left out all night was something that could make us sick. Back in the day, I think most college kids would be laughing at this. BTW...I would have eaten the eggs too. Still tasted yum, right?

                1. I eat raw egg mixed with soy sauce and poured over rice (as do a million Japanese people). Also have been known to pick a morsel off the floor and pop it in my mouth (30 second rule).

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: whs

                    I think we have ally applied the "30 sec" rule at one time or another, but we're living in an increasingly dirty world. I'd think twice where (and on/in what) my shoes have stepped before I would consider eating something that has met the floor/ground.

                    1. re: Tay

                      I actually think we live in an increasingly antiseptic world. At least in the US.

                      1. re: whs

                        I would have to say the 'increasingly antiseptic' is a futile attempt to combat the increasingly dirty.

                          1. re: paper_bag_princess

                            Or just the increasingly more aware.

                      2. re: Tay

                        i remember reading an article in scientific american that discussed the theory that the increase in food allergies can be attributed to the fact that because we are so clean now, our immune system begins attacking weird things (like nuts) because it has nothing else to do...now, whether the theory is true or not, i don't know, but the article appeared to take as fact that we do live in a 'too clean' world.

                        i'd also like to point out that bacteria and bugs are 'stronger' now because they build resistance to our increasingly strong antibacterial products. you know that line on every germ killer that reads 'kills 99.4% of all bacteria.' well, it's the .6% that survive that makes our world more dangerous.

                          1. re: soypower

                            soy and tater:
                            Bad news:
                            The world is still a very dirty place. It's the bad practices of numerous physicians, especially those trained in other parts of the world, who have created antibiotic resistant strains by insisting on treating patients with constant courses of unnecessary antibiotics given for too short a period of time. If we expect our Government to at least atttempt to provide some sort of guidelines for the expiration of the foods we consume, we should at not make light of the idea of following those guidelines. If something is stamped as having an expiration date, we take it on our own responsibility if we choose to ignore those dates.

                            1. re: Tay

                              Well, OF COURSE it's our own responsibility. Your operative word, Tay, is "guidelines." Expiration dates are just that: guidelines. In the worst of all possible worlds, foods would instantly go bad, and obviously so, on the guideline expiration dates. In the real world, foods usually stay good far longer. In the worst of all possible worlds, anyone eating a raw egg would be laid out by salmonella. In the real world, salmonella hardly ever bothers anyone, and if you are an otherwise healthy non-infant and non-aged person with a decent immune system it will never do anything more than give you a little stomachache (and even that virtually never). In the worst of all possible worlds, all pork is crawling with larvae and only incinerating it (i.e., cooking it to a dry and unpalatable 165 degrees) will solve the problem; in the real world trichinosis is virtually unknown in this country and 145 degrees is fine. But the choice is always yours.

                              1. re: ozhead

                                ozhead
                                "Expiration dates are just that: guidelines"
                                . .... " In the real world, salmonella hardly ever bothers anyone, and if you are an otherwise healthy non-infant and non-aged person with a decent immune system it will never do anything more than give you a little stomachache (and even that virtually never). .....
                                " in the real world trichinosis is virtually unknown in this country.".

                                Call them 'guidelines, 'suggestions' "recommendations". Whatever floats your boat.The manufs are saying that they can be safely used until the stamped date of expiration. Of course it's up to the purchasor/consumer to choose to adhere to, or ignore that date
                                As for your comments about Salmonella, that's a lot of qualifying you've done Let's see: "healthy, non infant, non aged, decent immune system" As for Salmonells hardly ever bothering anyone
                                and if it does it will only, ' give you a 'little stomache'... Spoken like someone who has never had it.
                                As for Trichinosis in the country. While not a common occurence, it is not "virtually unknown in this country"
                                The "best of/worst of, scenarios are dramatic but whenever a point is made by taking an example to an extreme , it's rendered somewhat ineffective.
                                I agree on one point: The choice is ultimately, always the consumers.
                                I'm just growing tired of people takiing chances by eating things like out dated or improperly refregerated food and then clogging the ER's for treatment and the courts for undeserved compensation.

                              2. re: Tay

                                US MD's have given out antibiotics for viral and other non bacterial problems which has contributed to resistance. On the other hand, physicians "trained" in other parts of the world who practice here in the US are still US licensed and probably are no more, and perhaps less guilty of over Rxing antibiotics when not needed than our home grown MD's who have had way more availability of these products; pushed on them by US drug rep's working for the major BioPharma industry and having their patients badger them after watching / reading who knows how many TV and magazine ad's touting the latest and greatest Rx drugs to hit the American healthcare market.

                                And to say that the antibiotics are given for too short a period of time is not accurate either. The problem is that the patients don't take the full course Rx'ed to them. As soon as they begin to feel better they quit taking their med's, antibiotics or otherwise. Nothing to do with their Doctor and the amount of drugs he/she has directed them to take.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Thank you for these words of wisdom. As a physician trained in another part of the world (Canada), and as someone who knows a lot of physicians who have been trained in other continents of the world, I feel that this is not the place for blanket statements that are not based in fact.

                                  1. re: moh

                                    "As a physician trained in another part of the world (Canada), and as someone who knows a lot of physicians who have been trained in other continents of the world, I feel that this is not the place for blanket statements that are not based in fact"
                                    You might want to have a conversation with an American trained Pediatrician about antibiotic resistent Strep This may not be the place, but the statement is based on reported fact, and I stand by it.

                                  2. re: Servorg

                                    Servorg
                                    "US MD's have given out antibiotics for viral and other non bacterial problems which has contributed to resistance. On the other hand, physicians "trained" in other parts of the world who practice here in the US are still US licensed and probably are no more, and perhaps less guilty of over Rxing antibiotics when not needed than our home grown MD's who have had way more availability of these products; pushed on them by US drug rep's working for the major BioPharma industry and having their patients badger them after watching / reading who knows how many TV and magazine ad's touting the latest and greatest Rx drugs to hit the American healthcare market.

                                    And to say that the antibiotics are given for too short a period of time is not accurate either. The problem is that the patients don't take the full course Rx'ed to them. As soon as they begin to feel better they quit taking their med's, antibiotics or otherwise. Nothing to do with their Doctor and the amount of drugs he/she has directed them to take."

                                    I agree with you that antibiotics are all too frequently given out for viral conditions.
                                    Physicains trained in other countries do a 'pathway' period here in the US. They may become licensed here but they are not trained here. Lest you all take offense, that statement is not meant as a reflection on anyone or anyone's country of origin.
                                    As for "pushing" meds. from Pharma. Co's, most drug formularies and Generics have taken care of that. We had better all hope the :major BioPharma industry gets enough in the way of profits so they continue to research and produce new meds, especially a new generation of antibiotics, or we're all in trouble. As it stands now, after Vancomycin, it's prayer.
                                    You're right: many people do d/c their meds before they finish the RX, But many, many Docs, ESP. Peds Docs insist on writing 3 day scripts for penicillin based antiboitics. Thus the antibiotic resistant Strep that has been showing up amongst the Peds population.

                                    1. re: Tay

                                      Tay, I think you are simplyfying the issue a lot, and it is for this reason I object to the blanket statement. While I don't disagree that there is an element of truth to your point. I would argue that this is only a small part of the whole picture. Chowhound is not the place to debate this topic, which could be the subject of entire conferences. Perhaps you'd like to speak to many infectious disease specialists (not just American -trained physicians, who may be protecting their own turf against foreign MDs) before making a final decision.

                                      1. re: Tay

                                        I leave doctors that are too script-happy. I've asked before if I have a bacterial infection or a virus - I've been told more than once that it's a virus, but these antibiotics will help prevent an infection from developing. Bye, doc. Unfortunately this has been well over half the doctors I've ever seen.

                                    2. re: Tay

                                      I have a different take on this; our North American insistence on sterile cooking has weakened our immune systems. Having visited more than a few 3rd world countries, where the natives are able to drink the water, eat raw salads, etc. without getting ill, I have gotten Montezuma's revenge on more than a few occasions. Thank god Immodium is available over the counter now.

                                      If we were more exposed to these bacteria, our bodies would develop immunities; instead we make ourselves more vulnerable.

                                      1. re: Tay

                                        "It's the bad practices of numerous physicians, especially those trained in other parts of the world, who have created antibiotic resistant strains by insisting on treating patients with constant courses of unnecessary antibiotics given for too short a period of time. "

                                        The docs who did that with me were white males, Canadian citizens, practicing in Canada. This is not a third world problem.

                                        1. re: Tay

                                          antibiotic resistance is a result of more than just
                                          << the bad practices of numerous physicians>>

                                          look at the TONS (yes literally TONS) of antibiotics that are administered to livestock in SUB THERAPEUTIC doses. imho, it's the elephant in the room . . . . . .

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            And a mighty tasty one if slaughtered Kosher. :-)

                                  3. I am so sick and tired of hearing the phrase "food police". If this stuff concerns you try reading the actual studies or at least an abstact or the actual FDA releases. *Don't* believe the newspapers exactly as they print it because for the most part they are cluless when to comes to science reporting, and certainly don't believe some 2nd, 3rd., etc. "telephone" reports. Could they be true or at least have an element of truth? Sure. Is it over-, incompletely, or under- stated -- or even wrong? Likely.

                                    1) Most food related studies -- and for that part most studies of diseases -- are given as *percentages* of a food or a population, with the emphasis on avoiding danger. Do *all* "undercooked" eggs contain salmonella? No. But would you rather be warned -- or not? Might you eat an egg with salmonella but still have no or mild symptoms? Of course. But would you rather be warned -- or not?

                                    Few people get parasitic infections from eating raw fish. (As far as we can tell; the epidemiology involved of unreported problems is impossible to calculate [poor sentance structure -- sorry]; even looking to the food source is problematic.) And of those that do, many fight off the critters and get no or mild problems -- at least as far as we can tell. I tell people that it is possible, but (as far as we can tell) that you're more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the restaurant or grocery store. But -- would you rather be warned -- or not?

                                    Agencies get in a *lot* more trouble not telling people about potential problems than by assuming it's no big deal. It comes down to: would you rather be warned -- or not?

                                    2) Why do warnings change?

                                    A. Because we make guesses. Hopefully educated ones, but of what we know a lot will be altered or even eliminated. It's the nature of the scientific process. Get over it or not -- your choice. Don't blame the original messenger.
                                    B. Because the writers either report something new, finally read a report (whether or not they understand it is different story), or come not to believe the story they already reported poorly or even erroneously, or something else.

                                    3) Some people have lowered immune systems -- and that alone is a complex subject. Does an agency not report a potential problem because most people won't encounter it?

                                    Rant over.

                                    1. I don't think the "food police" are getting overzealous. The fact that you haven't gotten food poisoning doesn't prove that the warnings aren't necessary, it just means that you have been lucky. Food-borne illness is relatively rare anymore, and it's even more rare if you follow the USDA safety recommendations.

                                      I have never found the "Well, it didn't happen to me!!!" argument to be terribly compelling. People say the same thing about carseats for small children, and about seatbelts. Just because you weren't ever thrown from a car or because you spent your childhood bouncing around the back seat of a station wagon doesn't mean that carseat users are "overzealous."

                                      5 Replies
                                        1. re: Tay

                                          I certainly don't have a problem with publishing warnings about possible contamination or health issues. We should all have information about our food and safe practices for its preparation. However, I do object to the near prohibition on the sale of products, like unpasteurized dairy, and the increased restrictions on direct to consumer sales. Consumers should have the choice.

                                          Another example of taking it to far - our club used to donate large amounts of wild game to a local program for the homeless. In some years we dontated hundreds of pounds of expertly butchered venison along with cleaned and frozen game birds. A lot of meat was from the necessary culling on local farms in areas where there is great overpopulation, much of which would otherwise go to waste. A few years ago, local legislators decided to prohibit this practice and require that only farm raised USDA meats be permitted. The meat lockers and butcher stations used for the prep of these meats exceed local standards for food prep.

                                          1. re: vonwotan

                                            Although I am not a fan of sport hunting, I applaud your clubs efforts to do something good for your community's less fortunate individuals. It's annoying and frustrating that the state's politicos couldn't have come up with the resources to have your donations inspected/tested, instead of bowing to the Lobbyist's and Special Interests groups and depriving people in need of assistance.

                                          1. re: DockPotato

                                            Better to give people common sense and/or scientifically based information and at least give them some, "Food for thought" ... Properly stored, of course :-}

                                        2. My problem is when these things are legislated and serving rare burgers or raw eggs is actually illegal. But, seriously, you can't taste the difference between a fresh egg and a 3-month-old egg? As far as meat is concerned, it's ground beef that can be cause for concern -- check out Fast Food Nation -- because most packing plants can't guarantee that no fecal matter will make its way into your meat. You don't have the conern with slabs of meat such as steaks because you usually sear the surface of the meat, where the fecal matter resides. With marinade, if there is bacterial contamination in your marinade you will kill it if it cooks long enough. But I wouldn't pour the marinade my chicken had been soaking in over my freshly barbecued meat.
                                          What you don't seem to grasp is that U.S. food safety has declined over the past few decades as the process becomes more mechanized. Chickens have been bred in closed cages that are prime candidates for the spread of bacteria. Cows are slaughtered as quickly as possible, which means that some fecal matter gets into the meat. And it seems as though the bacteria are getting more virulent over time, which some are blaming on overuse of antibiotics. So go ahead and eat your rare burger (if it's really that important to eat a rare burger, have your meat ground by a local, trusted butcher) and eat those nasty, old runny eggs, but remind me to never eat at your house.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Fuser

                                            For those interested here are a number of organizations (from the Small Planet Insititute's list) that speak to food safety here in the US. The unfortunate thing is that politics trumps reason in much of the debate.

                                            Healthful Diets and Food Safety

                                            Center for Food Safety | centerforfoodsafety.org

                                            Center for Informed Food Choices | informedeating.org

                                            Center for Science in the Public Interest | cspinet.org

                                            Consumers Union | consumersunion.org

                                            1. re: Fuser

                                              Fuser, I think you raise a really crucial point: that mass-industrial meat production is a disaster on just about every level: health-wise, moral, and environmental. I didn't read Fast Food Nation, but I saw the movie. Aside from the gross-out factor of the meat contamination and the killing floors, it brought out a point that you don't see very often in accounts of the meat industry: the horribly unethical treatment of the people who work in the plants. It seems a no-brainer to me that we need to stop supporting it financially.

                                              There are alternatives. Buy meat from small farmers who feed their animals properly and treat them humanely. Yes, it's more expensive and may mean reducing our meat consumption (mine's now down to one or two meals per week), but the current system just isn't sustainable.

                                            2. Yes, the warnings may sound overly paranoid. But the reality is that many, many people don't have the slightest concept of food safety and/or basic hygiene. (In a recent thread (which I can no longer locate) a poster felt hand washing was unnecessary!) Do you really want to eat in a restaurant that holds the same lackadaisical view? If you have a strong immune system & are lucky you might be able to get away with questionable practices - for awhile - but odds are not for long. If you are feeding other people their health is in your hands, especially if they are very young, very old, pregnant or have a comprised immune system. With "bugs" getting stronger & our processing facilities becoming fewer, we will most likely see problems with greater frequency in the future.

                                              1. Who exactly are these straw men you refer to as "food police," and since you're talking about feeding YOURSELF, how is this post even relevant?

                                                What next, a post about "political correctness" ruining Christmas?

                                                THERE IS NO "FOOD POLICE" TELLING YOU HOW TO PREPARE YOUR OWN FOOD. Got it? We WANT regulations to protect us from the unsavoury acts of restos and groceries. Got it?

                                                1. I'm not dead yet either.
                                                  Over the holidays, I made it a point to enjoy as much cookie dough as possible while baking my xmas cookies...you gotta eat something for dinner, but the only thing available when you've got a stove full of pots with of boiling hot sugar for the marshmallows and an oven full o cookies and a counter full of cooling cookies and batches of "setting marshmellows"...the easiest thing is to eat the dough.
                                                  During my 3 baking and making days, I ate pizza that I left in the car overnight...I was looking all over for it in themorning to have for breakfast and was so happy to find it on the passanger seat of my car...mmm, it was so good! Now, that's a good pizza.I also ate sushi, and oysters, and raw quail eggs.
                                                  Still, not dead.
                                                  Today, had 2 "just set" eggs over rice that I plopped into my rice cooker after it turned off...nope, not dead yet.
                                                  When I'm backpacking, I do not cook nor refriderate anything. I bring cheese, I bring salami, smoked salmon (not canned), creame fraiche, and even after I open any of these things, they are still good 4 days later and the cross contamination between my knife, my dirty shirt sleeve and all the food must be crazy-bad. I'll eat some tuna and if I don't finish it, I throw some grapefruit into a Nalgene over the tuna and eat it in the morning with some avocado...just keep reusing the same container. I figure the citrus is good for antibacterial reasons.
                                                  Yum!

                                                    1. re: Ranger05

                                                      I see nothing wrong with government warnings about having ground beef well done, not eating transfats, etc., but requiring compliance with this advice is something else again. It all reminds me of the years of prohibition in the US, and we all know what a great success THAT was.

                                                      1. re: ekammin

                                                        That's just the point: Nobody is "requiring" compliance. You can eat as much crap as you want. There is NO FOOD POLICE for the examples OP came up with.

                                                        1. re: John Manzo

                                                          There are many restaurants that will not serve hamburgers rare or medium rare - at least in my area. IF the restaurant grinds their own beef - they can serve it as the customer requests - but only if they grind their own beef. So - yes it is a regulation.

                                                    2. Food safety guidelines are just that - guidelines to cover most situations. Fact is, leaving food at room temperature allows bacteria to multiply much more rapidly, allowing levels that might have been subinfectious to reach amounts that might make you actually sick. If there was not very much bacteria to start with, you can eat it and not get sick. If you reheat it, the elevated levels will most likely be destroyed anyway (most bacteria do get destroyed by heating to certain temperatures). So all of the examples you are citing are generally fine if
                                                      1. the handling of the food up to the time you got it was such that there was little or no bacteria present at purchase, or
                                                      2. you cooked your food to the temperature necessary to destroy whatever harmful levels of bacteria did end up in your food.
                                                      If you didn't ensure either of the above and never got sick, you're probably just lucky.

                                                      1. Thought I was the only one ... for ALL of the above.

                                                        1. There's no one regulating what you do at home.

                                                          However, the government does have oversight of the food industry and frankly, I think they're pretty lax on enforcement - particularly when it comes to inspecting agricultural production and supply.

                                                          Personally, I'm all for a "food police" that prevents restaurants from cross-contaminating my meal with raw meat juices and stores from selling me unrefridgerated dairy/eggs/whatever. Just as long as they don't interfere with what I do at home.

                                                          1. Only "food police" I listen to are the posters here on Chowhound.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              I think some people are indeed overzealous, but you know, gambling is an odds game. You can play the lottery every day and go your whole life and never, ever win. Or you might play and win. That's a GOOD consequence of gambling. You might eat leftover/out-all-night pizza, raw cookie dough, rare burgers, whatever, every day your whole life and never get sick from it. Or, you might. And it's nothing like winning the lottery, that's for sure.

                                                              I mean, you could never get health insurance because you're "pretty sure" you're never going to be sick and need it, but you buy it because it's insurance against what MIGHT happen. Same thing with car insurance (well, that is required by law, but the principle is the same), life insurance, etc. Why would you not take a few simple precautions instead of overtly gambling over and over and over. You can only tempt fate so many times and get away with it, that's how I look at it.

                                                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                The last two times I've gotten sick from food were at a very upscale bistro in St Jean Cap Ferrat on the Riviera, and at a local restaurant that charges $25-35 per entree (a la carte). Never got sick eating off the street in Bangkok, or from a dirty water hot dog off the street in New York. So I guess every meal is the lottery.

                                                            2. Wow, jfood gotta get out more. This is the first he has ever heard the term "food police".

                                                              The FDA and other government agencies issue guidelines for safe everything from crossing the street, to cooking meat in restos, to stating that murder is not a safe environment for their citizenry. They have also established many guidelines that actions within the home are exempt from these regulation (not murder obviously). So within your own home go right ahead and do any of the items the OP has suggested.

                                                              As many know jfood ain't on this list. And he agrees with only 2-3 of those on the list in casa jfood. If the OP or anyone else wants to do any of these things in there home, jfood has no problem. Onthe other hand Jfood is glad when the government let's us know when something might not be safe. Jfood watched his first dog go into convulsions from eating lead paint and died right in front of him. If jfood had known about lead pain way back then, he would not have had to witness this unfortunate event. Now we have lead in toys, e-coli in lettuce, rancid meat in fast food joints. If the government did not give us notice, then how would we know.

                                                              And if you think there is anyone who thinks someone stupid, won;t do something stupid and blame someone else, then remember the lady with the hot coffee from McD's.

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                I don't agree that there is no such thing as the "food police' To date. the government has largely stayed out of our own homes (outside of suggestions that smoking at home be outlawed, which doesn't bother me, a non-smoker, personally, though, since it is an infringement on somebody's rights, it should.).

                                                                But restaurants are another thing. here in Ontario, they want to pass a law prohibiting restaurants from using transfats. Not suggesting, or advising, but prohibiting. Requiring that a restaurant publicize its use of transfats is one thing. But this evidently means that the "food police", mythical or not, could walk into a restaurant, examine its cooking oil, and fine it, or put it out of business. Sieg heil!

                                                                Pierre Trudeau once said the "the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation". Nor does it have any in the living rooms, dining rooms or kitchens, as well.

                                                                And oh, yes. "Too overzealous" is a redundancy, isn't it?

                                                                1. re: ekammin

                                                                  And, of course, Chicago and its foie gras lunacy come to mind. The food police, sadly, are not imaginary.

                                                                  1. re: ReluctantOperaChick

                                                                    is foie illegal to serve in Chicago? it will be in CA in a few more years. Sad, sad, sad.

                                                                    1. re: justagthing

                                                                      Yup, has been since June 2006.

                                                                      Would've liked to have been in Chicago that August for this protest - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/23/us/...

                                                                      1. re: ReluctantOperaChick

                                                                        Well for you it's only the city of Chicago. For us, it's the whole state of California. So sad for our entire state and those that love these delicious delicacies.

                                                                  2. re: ekammin

                                                                    Also, raw milk cheeses are prohibited in Ontario, but allowed in Quebec. I don't read any reports of inordinate number of Quebeckers kicking off from tainted cheese, or Frenchmen for that matter.

                                                                    We seem to have an excess of people in this province who feel it's their duty to tell the rest of us how to live. Feh.

                                                                    1. re: KevinB

                                                                      Ontario isn't the only one. If you read the link I posted below for realmilk.org, the health issues with unpasteurized milk have largely been resolved with refrigeration. Of course, this assumes the farms have healthy animals and good safety practices, but the laws in the US and Canada behind banning raw milk stem back to the 1920s-40s, before there was the ability to sanitarily store the raw product without pasteurization that there is available now. Education is what is needed, both for the Governments writing the laws, and for the public.

                                                                2. I think the thing lots of these responses, and OP as well, are ignoring, is that these regulations are designed to protect the most vulnerable. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system are FAR more vulnerable to food-borne illness - and they can DIE from it. A couple of days ago, two elderly men in central MA died, and a woman miscarried, all from listeria, presumably milk-borne. These things do happen, and when they happen they can be deadly.

                                                                  I am guessing that most of us posting in this thread are pretty healthy adults, with immune systems that hum along pretty efficiently. I do most of the same things as OP, and I don't get sick much, either. But I am a lot more careful about what I expose my one-year-olds to, and when he was alive, my friend who was going through chemo.

                                                                  We are taught food-safety practices that are designed to avoid what can be very serious consequences, by being more careful than is always necessary. By the same token, you might be able to get away with running that red light where you never, ever see any opposing traffic 99% of the time, but that one broadside collision could easily kill you and the other driver. So you stop for the red light every time - or if you don't, you know the risk you're taking, and you make your judgments accordingly, and I hope you don't run the light with your kids in the car. Thus too with food safety. I know that I might possibly get salmonella from eating raw eggs, but I make chocolate mousse with egg yolks, eat undercooked breakfast eggs, and munch on raw cookie dough all the time, because I believe that risk to be small. However, when I'm cooking in a restaurant (where I can't know who will eat my food), or for friends or family members who might be more vulnerable, I may make different choices.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ReluctantOperaChick

                                                                    I think it is perfectly possible for the authorities to stay out of people's private lives, and still protect the weak. Just because we don't want to interfere with one's privacy is no reason why we should countenance domestic violence or child abuse.

                                                                    1. re: ekammin

                                                                      And just as we have regulatory and legal ways of dealing with domestic violence and child abuse, we have health codes for foodservice establishments. However, no one is interfering with what you cook or how you store your food in your own home - those transfat regs won't keep you from boiling up a vat of hydrogenated fat on your own kitchen stove - so I don't really see how the "food police" are "interfering in people's private lives." No one is inspecting your counters to make sure your eggs are put away and your chicken isn't thawing at room temp. Health codes protect the public, in situations where individuals aren't in control of the conditions of food preparation.

                                                                      1. re: ReluctantOperaChick

                                                                        They are however, increasingly controlling what we can purchase for consumption in our homes. There is a near prohibition on raw or unpasteurized milk, they have prohibited the sale of unpasteuraized almonds, now that farmers markets are regaining some of their popularity there are efforts to pass legislation limiting or prohibiting direct to consumer sales and the list goes on. We heavily subsidize corporate / commercial farmers who are already profitable which further limits consumer choice - these producers find it most profitable to produce very limited crops or to raise only limited breeds of cattle, etc. and to raise them in squalid conditions - actually adding to the risk of contamination.

                                                                        The biggest concern isn't the FDA or state agencies telling people how to prepare food in their home but the fact that many of the bills and "safety" measures being proposed are written so that they add insurmountable barriers to entry for small local, organic or family producers. Taking away the consumers' choice.

                                                                        1. re: vonwotan

                                                                          Another link for those interested in the difficulties faced by small farmers due to the regulations the huge farming corporations lobby for each year. One of the greatest things about living in Northern Virginia were all of the organic producers many of who are struggling to stay open despite the demand for their procucts in DCs restaurants.

                                                                          http://www.polyfacefarms.com/books.aspx

                                                                          1. re: vonwotan

                                                                            As for raw or unpasteurized milk and dairy products, it depends upon what state you live in -- in California, raw milk is legal. Here's a link to a website which lists raw milk resources state by state -- it's actually more widely available than you think:

                                                                            http://www.realmilk.com/where1.html

                                                                            1. re: DanaB

                                                                              Unfortunately it is generally only available for sale direct from the farms and both California and the Federal authorities/FDA are attempting to stop its sale. Fortunately they had to back off a bit when more than 160 cases of food borne illness from pasteurized milk were identified.

                                                                              We really do go overboard on this prohibition. Stores cannot sell raw milk or milk products. Traditional (and much better tasting) cheeses like Camembert cannot be sold if made from raw milk despite hundreds of years of production. For us here in the Boston area, unless you can drive to a pickup point for the one Eastern Mass service that helps with the purchase of raw milk you are out of luck.

                                                                              1. re: vonwotan

                                                                                More on the raw milk actions in California and New York.

                                                                                http://www.thecompletepatient.com/

                                                                    2. Don't forget to put foie gras on that bloody steak:) Oh, illegal in Chicago!

                                                                      1. Yea, I ordered my Triple Prime Burger rare at Ruby Tuesdays the other night and was denied. Med. rare was the best they could do said the waitress. It was good, but would have been alot better rare.

                                                                        1. I am the same with you, my mom literally screams every time I order sushi that has raw fish with it. As long as the meat doesn't get to the danger zone then I'm fine.

                                                                          1. Trans fat. KFC is just not the same anymore. Heck, it's not as if you eat it every day. And don't get me started on our amazing mahogany Quebec frites, that are like hen's teeth now. Le sigh.

                                                                            1. This reminds me of my lovely wife's grand parents who are in their early 90's.
                                                                              Grandmother made/heated a spiral ham for dinner along with frozen julienne string beans with those canned fried onions on top and baked potatoes.
                                                                              She cooked the potatoes in her microwave, an Amana Radar range with a rusted thru bottom. I stand in the next room when she uses the microwave.
                                                                              For the potatoes she served margarine (butter is not healthy) and put out a container of sour cream (which is healthy???).
                                                                              When the sour cream was passed around to me I noticed that it was not sour cream but cottage cheese (I thought). They love reusing containers.
                                                                              "This is cottage cheese!" I said. "No, it's sour cream just like it says on the container."
                                                                              I got up went into the kitchen and found the lid. Expired 10 months ago!!!!! They still ate it!!!
                                                                              They truly believe that if it does not kill you it makes you stronger.
                                                                              Now we take them out for dinners. They love the chain restaurants, Cheesecake Factory, Bonefish, Carrabas etc.. They get lots of leftovers and sneak sugar packets into her purse. We love them!!!

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                                                Oh my God. I would have excused myself from the table. Past-date dairy products are one thing I don't mess with.

                                                                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                  Yup, I passed the science experiment to my left.

                                                                              2. You probably have a good immune system.

                                                                                I, on the other hand, get sick at the drop of a hat.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                  Undoubtedly it won't be in time to alter your life, or mine, but the field of epigenetics (which is not even in its infancy, maybe still in utero?) will impact the lives of those who, like you, have suppressed immune responses. See here for more about this field and what it will begin to mean for all of us as it is better understood and adjusted: http://theweek.com/article/index/2389...

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    I've been reading about epigenetics for a while.

                                                                                    My immune response is likely mostly explained by somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred or so courses of antibiotics I took as a child because I had a never-ending bout with tonsillitis and strep. I was *always* sick, and the antibiotics never really worked all that well on me.

                                                                                    Additionally, though, another part of it can be explained by my genetic collagen defect, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which comes with its own set of problems including digestive system problems, which I have in abundance.

                                                                                    Although we could throw in my MTHFR pathway defects, which can be directly caused by epigenetics.

                                                                                    It's an... interesting situation, I guess. But in the end, there was no real way for me to win the genetic lottery.

                                                                                    1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                      "It's an... interesting situation, I guess. But in the end, there was no real way for me to win the genetic lottery."

                                                                                      That's just the point. You need your gene "settings" recalibrated. Some are either switched too low or off and they need to be set to medium or high or just on. I like to imagine it will consist of a specialist setting at something that looks like one of those giant mixer consoles like this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SSL... and that "genetic mixer dude" will fine tune your immune system. It will also include an error code reader like they use in engine analysis today to figure out why those lights on your dash board are all lit up...

                                                                                2. I do everything on this list, excepting the super-runny eggs and bloody meat. I also thaw my chickens in warm water. I should be dead before 30.

                                                                                  (Pizza just ISN'T THE SAME when it's been in the fridge!)

                                                                                  1. You can't sue yourself for the after affects of your actions. The litigiousness of our society dictates much of the rules and regulations that are put into place.

                                                                                    1. I love:

                                                                                      My steak blood rare
                                                                                      my pizza breakfast room temperature
                                                                                      my meats thawed in the sink (sometimes overnight)
                                                                                      My holiday turkey left out from lunch until everyone has had their final suppertime bites
                                                                                      sacred cows, which make the best hamburgers

                                                                                      1. I'll eat steak tartare and kibbe (raw lamb and spices) - but only if I trust my sources. When I make it at home, I grind my own meat - I won't eat purchased ground beef raw.

                                                                                        I make Caesar salads with raw eggs. Re-freezing meat can affect the texture, but if it's been stored properly between freezings it shouldn't be a problem (I usually use frozen meats for a stew, then freeze any leftovers after I get tired of eating them).

                                                                                        IMHO, the food police are aiming at the lowest common denominator: people who buy poor quality foods in the first place, than abuse them after a long drive home in a hot car.

                                                                                        1. Oh yes! I don't do most of what you mention in my own house, probably because of the aforementioned "food police", but growing up my Mom did not follow the same guidelines. She did, and still does, leave food sitting out over night. I grew up eating these foods the next day and I was always just fine. So even though I don't purposefully do any of these things, I don't worry too much when I do. Not too long ago I accidentally forgot my left over chicken from a restaurant in my car over night. It's Summer here and I thought about it, but I ate it anyways, and no harm done!

                                                                                          1. Check, check, check, yep I do all of those things.

                                                                                            My guess is that a lot of our safety guidelines and expiration dates are just suggestions. They are strict because they know people don't tend to follow them so closely.

                                                                                            I do pay attention to raw chicken and seafood and I am more serious about things when cooking for other people. but I have done and still do those things you listed without any issues.