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Have you ever given yourself food poisoning?

greedygirl Oct 11, 2008 01:11 PM

I was just reading the "would you eat the chilli that's been left out overnight" thread and was marvelling at the totally different attitudes to food safety and hygiene on these boards. (For the record, I totally would.)

I think by some of the standards here, I should have died already. I sometimes leave food out overnight and eat it the next day - never had a problem. I regularly eat stuff which is supposedly out of date - never had a problem. I'm even a cat owner. ;-)

So despite my rather relaxed attitude, I've never given myself food poisoning. In fact I think I've only had proper food poisoning twice - although one was a particularly nasty bout lasting three days in Morocco (seafood). So my very unscientific conclusion is that it's actually quite hard to be poisoned by food.

Discuss.

  1. c
    Christina D Feb 20, 2014 05:33 PM

    I made myself sick only once. I was recovering from pneumonia and the flu and had finally started to feel better. I decided to make the family chicken fajitas for dinner and grilled the chicken breasts on the indoor grill. Well, apparently I undercooked some of it and with my already compromised immune system, it took me down for an entire other week.

    1. k
      kseiverd Feb 20, 2014 05:12 PM

      "Back in the day", frozen stuff was set put on "drain borad" of sink to thaw during the day. Often was chicken... whole or parts. Can't think of a single time when anybody got sick from that??

      1. Alcachofa Jan 7, 2014 10:25 AM

        Not intentionally, of course, but my story involves lasagna and puking in a trash can in the Port Authority in NYC. Would you like more details?

        1. PattiCakes Jan 7, 2014 09:32 AM

          More than 30 years ago, when I was newly married and somewhat naive, hubby and I went to a fabulous brunch at a local restaurant. I feasted on all kinds of wonderful things, including chicken liver pate (we lived in an area with a significant Jewish population, so there was a table with lox herring, chicken liver & etc.). Man was that pate good!. We were so full from the brunch that I ate nothing else for the rest of the day. In the evening, though, I had a hankering for just a little something, and had a small slice of home-made pumpkin pie that I HAD LEFT OUT ON TOP OF THE FRIDGE FOR 2 DAYS. 2 hours later, and for hours and hours, I puked my guts out, starting with copious amounts of chicken liver pate. Funny, I still love pumpkin pie, but I can't even look at chicken liver pate without gagging. Oh, and as it turned out, I was also 6 weeks pregnant. My son is 33 now, and can't stand pumpkin pie.

          1. l
            LeoLioness Dec 18, 2013 12:08 PM

            Maybe? I've never understood how people can be so sure that ____ caused their distress and not _____ or ______.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LeoLioness
              porker Dec 18, 2013 12:43 PM

              My mother-in-law knows exactly what causes her flatulence ("it was the salad") or what causes her loose stools ("it was the salad") and what causes her constipation ("danged salad"). Burping is due to cucumbers (which were in the salad).

              1. re: porker
                p
                Puffin3 Jan 5, 2014 05:31 AM

                Twice. Once mishandling raw chicken and another time mishandling raw ground beef.
                If giving ones self food poisoning doesn't make a person 'wise-up' about safe food handling nothing will.
                My father also got food poisoning from raw oysters: He had returned from one of his "I have to get away for a couple of weeks by myself" visits to Van. Is. Turned out these frequent 'mental-health' trips were to live part time with the secret mother of his child. Anyway.
                He brought home a one quart jar of raw oysters and declared they were only his and should anyone of us kids, or my mother take any we would be "thrashed". (In my mothers case it meant a black eye.)
                No one but he touched the raw oysters. One night the ambulance had to be called to take him to the hospital with serious food poisoning.
                Funny thing about that episode. For the next few days the whole family seemed to be relaxed and smiling and 'walking-on-air' with happiness.
                I do like a raw oyster. "Here's to you Dad".

                1. re: Puffin3
                  Sra. Swanky Jan 6, 2014 06:36 AM

                  Yikes - forgive me for saying this, but who knew that your completely awful ogre of a dad was actually protecting you & your Mom from a most unpleasant fate! So glad you guys were spared. God does indeed work in mysterious ways and karma will definitely get you every time!

            2. PotatoHouse Dec 17, 2013 06:14 PM

              Only once. I kept some t-giving turkey just a LITTLE too long.

              1. s
                sr44 Dec 16, 2013 10:03 PM

                Yes, many years ago. I made some herb mayonnaise from a Julia Child recipe. She specified that the herbs be blanched in boiling water. Ms. Smartypants didn't do that and suffered the consequences, fortunately not for long. I was having a battle between Adelle Davis and Julia Child and lost.

                1. z
                  zackly Dec 16, 2013 09:11 PM

                  Yes, occasionally from eating very runny egg yolks

                  1. t
                    takadi Dec 16, 2013 08:57 PM

                    The sickest I've ever been was from eating raw beef at a pho restaurant. Usually I would be okay, but I was adding the raw slices of beef to the pho one at a time and soon I was dipping raw meat into warm broth, a recipe for disaster. Had a raging fever for 3 days and came out of it with a swollen eye from infection. Never again

                    1. Bill Hunt Jun 8, 2012 09:38 PM

                      Not intentionally, no.

                      Hunt

                      1. l
                        Logrus9 Jun 8, 2012 03:24 PM

                        Once, came back from a business trip and made a quick stir fry with rice from the fridge, I didn't think about how long it had been in there before the trip. As others have described, rolling on the floor hoping death would come quickly, double geyser all night long. It took a few days to recover, I never realized rice could be so bad until I checked into it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Logrus9
                          s
                          staughton Jun 8, 2012 08:31 PM

                          Your "double geyser" has me doubled over. What an image. Thanks for the highlight of my week.

                        2. lafouchow Jun 8, 2012 01:43 PM

                          Yes, by mishandling raw chicken while multi-tasking and getting unexpected company. It took months to really get over it. Miserable.

                          1. c
                            cleobeach May 27, 2012 06:06 AM

                            I don't know if it was actual food poisoning or not but when I was 5 months pregnant, I ate a large amount of blue cheese for lunch and hours later started with no stop distress from both ends, so much so I became dehydrated and was admitted to the hospital.

                            1. jw615 May 27, 2012 12:03 AM

                              I haven't managed to give myself actual food poisoning yet, and I'm not a crazy stickler about food safety either - I pretty commonly disregard the expiration dates.

                              I have managed to put myself into anaphylaxis twice though...once was my fault - I should have read the ingredients better. Oops. The second time was food that I made, but I don't take responsibility - how was I supposed to know that I had developed a deadly saffron allergy? Not your traditional food poisoning, but being that both involved epipens and the ER, not exactly a walk in the park either.

                              1. s
                                staughton May 26, 2012 10:27 PM

                                I'm with you. I leave pizza in the oven for two days and eat it. I've eaten food--with meat in it--that has sat in a pot on the stove all night and then reheated it the next day. I eat things past their sell-by date all the time. I've even eaten homemade pea soup that has started to sour, and still no poisoning.

                                What do all these paranoid food-handling nazis think our ancestors ate? Do they honestly think that 100 years ago everyone was throwing out food that wasn't eaten after every meal just because they didn't have refrigeration?!?! I've learned to trust my nose.

                                The ONE TIME in the past 10 years that I did NOT trust my nose was at an expensive Japanese noodle place in NYC where I got some soba w/ uni that didn't smell right to me, but my dinner companiion said she didn't smell anything wrong with it. I knew something wasn't right, but "the place was so reputable," I told myself... I should've trusted my instincts. Six hours later the ordeal began, and it didn't stop for over twelve hours. So, in a way, I gave myself food-poisoning! I've never given myself food poisoning with food that I prepared, though.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: staughton
                                  sunshine842 May 27, 2012 12:43 AM

                                  there are plenty of foodborne illnesses to do not change the smell, color, or appearance of the food -- so your nose won't always know.

                                  1. re: staughton
                                    c
                                    Chowrin Dec 16, 2013 09:26 PM

                                    our ancestors also died of much more stomach cancer than we do.

                                    1. re: Chowrin
                                      pikawicca Dec 17, 2013 04:36 PM

                                      Source, please.

                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                        c
                                        Chowrin Dec 18, 2013 09:31 AM

                                        Public speech by a breast cancer researcher (who was making the point on how alarming the rise in incidence of breast cancer was).
                                        You're welcome to google for the graph yourself.

                                  2. p
                                    purple bot May 26, 2012 10:01 PM

                                    I find it hilarious (not really) that people are so quick to accuse a restaurant of poisoning them at the slightest rumbling of the tummy, but if they haven't eaten out at all? Just a case of a stomach bug. Or something. No one ever thinks they make themselves sick by mishandling food. (obviously, some of you here are owning up to it, but I'm speaking very generally)

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: purple bot
                                      sunshine842 May 27, 2012 12:46 AM

                                      It's odd, isn' it?

                                      But the reality is that the majority of the time, you really have no idea what caused it -- with the long incubation times for most foodborne illnesses, the only way you'd know definitively what caused it is for laboratory tests.

                                      Obviously if everyone who ate x all were sick, then x was most likely the culprit -- but it's harder to nail down when there's only one or two of you.

                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        p
                                        purple bot May 27, 2012 09:21 PM

                                        Exactly my point, sunshine! But people (ones that I know, at least) are always quick to point a finger at a restaurant if they ate at one. If they ate at home or at a friend's, well, food poisoning just doesn't occur to them.

                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                          c
                                          Chowrin Dec 16, 2013 09:25 PM

                                          Ya can smell the milk! Listeria is rather easy to track down.

                                          1. re: Chowrin
                                            sunshine842 Dec 17, 2013 03:44 AM

                                            er, no, it isn't -- it doesn't smell of rot.

                                            Even absolutely-fresh lunchmeats and some cheeses (and things like sprouts...)can be contaminated with listeria -- that would be why they're no-nos for pregnant women -- because they're undetectable until it's too late.

                                            http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/listeria/

                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                              c
                                              cleobeach Dec 17, 2013 07:34 AM

                                              My OB was a pretty chill doc and lunch meat/deli case items were the only things he said that he warned his patients to avoid.

                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                c
                                                Chowrin Dec 17, 2013 08:02 AM

                                                well, in some things you can smell it. Like milk.

                                                1. re: Chowrin
                                                  sunshine842 Dec 17, 2013 04:28 PM

                                                  er, no.

                                                  Spoiled milk carries the smell of spoiled milk.

                                                  Listeria has no detectable odor. See the CDC link. You can have listeria-contaminated milk that smells perfectly fresh, and you can have spoiled milk that tests negative for listeria.

                                                  CleoBeach, you might want to have a gander at the CDC link -- they've recently added things like sprouts and smoked/cured fish.

                                          2. re: purple bot
                                            l
                                            ludmilasdaughter Feb 20, 2014 11:01 AM

                                            I know this thread is old, but you are spot on. I know for sure that the last few times I was so sick I felt like dying it was not due to food poisoning, but rather, a stomach bug. Interestingly enough though, I still can't eat whatever food item I last at before getting sick, even though I *know* that wasn't the issue.

                                          3. s
                                            Scooter8 May 26, 2012 09:32 AM

                                            I learned the hard way that you can't refreeze fish that has not thawed in a refrigerator. I was in college and my sister drove 6 hours and transported a small cooler of salmon my parents had caught and smoked and it had thawed by the time it got to me. I knew I couldn't consume all of it at once, so stuck a batch in the freezer. A few weeks later I thawed it and ate it and spent the night on the cold bathroom floor wanting to die. I won't go into details about what came out of me, but I will never, ever forget it. I definitely have a 5 second rule in my kitchen, but refrrigeration has become a little bit of an obsession.

                                            1. Up With Olives Oct 23, 2008 01:30 PM

                                              I'd thought I had food poisoning before, but it was nothing compared to the time I gave it to myself. I made miso soup and a cold tofu app. I probably sliced dried mushrooms for the dashi, then without cleaning the knife cut the tofu which of course was not cooked, and some scary mushroom residue did me in. Full on fever and horrible horrible horrible. Husband was fine. That's why I figure the germ action must have been on a knife edge. (As I write this post I see the button below that says "Attach photo" and I'm happy not to have one!)

                                              1. Will Owen Oct 16, 2008 06:39 PM

                                                I once lived out in the country, and had a pair of Easter ducks that had grown up and hung out in the yard, and every so often the girl duck would give me a very nice egg. One morning I found an egg in an out-of the way corner of the yard, but it never occurred to me that it might have been there a while... so I scrambled it very soft, just the way I like'em, and enjoyed it thoroughly for, oh, about an hour. Then I had cramps, and then eruptions at each end of the old system, and I spent the next several hours alternating between being afraid I was going to die and being afraid I wasn't.

                                                Sometime later I read that the Long Island duck industry had originally been established post-WW2 as a duck EGG industry, but then it was discovered that virtually every egg those things laid was infected with salmonella. Don't know if that was what this was, but I certainly avoided Ms. Duck's offerings from then on.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Will Owen
                                                  j
                                                  James Cristinian Oct 18, 2008 04:37 PM

                                                  The following post is graphic and not for the squeamish. I have a friend who defrosts packages of chicken in the Houston summer sunshine, 95 degrees plus. Needless to say, the rest of his kitchen hygiene is lacking, to say the least. Anytime we go over to grill I bring my own meat and wash all dishes and silverware, also, I do not go to his annual Super Bowl party, too many chances to be killed, although to my knowledge, no one has died.

                                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                                    StrawbrryF Oct 22, 2008 01:57 PM

                                                    I think my favorite thing about this thread BY FAR is the inventive ways everyone found to describe their symptoms. :)

                                                  2. Midlife Oct 16, 2008 02:17 PM

                                                    I had made a delicious lasagna of asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, parmesan, onions and peppers. My wife and I had it on a Sunday for dinner then wrapped the dish in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I had some on the following Wednesday and should have thrown out the rest at that point but wasn't thinking and put it back in the fridge . My wife finished it off for lunch that same Friday (5 days from when it was cooked) and was really sick for the next 3 days (actually caused herself an ulcer that still recurs from time to time).

                                                    My restaurant food safety training (if I recall correctly) says 4 days maximum under refrigeration for ANYTHING unless it's frozen. This event certainly proved that rule to be correct. My wife said it looked fine, smelled and tasted fine....... but it obviously wasn't.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Midlife
                                                      CPla Oct 17, 2008 01:03 AM

                                                      I would suggest that learning the basics of food safety and abiding by them is the way to go, as you clearly indicate too.
                                                      Sure, we can all break those rules and get away with it repeatedly. Is that any consolation the first time we suffer food poisoning? I do not think so.
                                                      As an analogy, I have not been hospitalised for the last 33 years, and that time was not due to ill health but an accident. Would I be offering good advice if I said health insurance is a waste of money, on the basis that I have had no use for it for 33 years?

                                                      1. re: Midlife
                                                        c
                                                        ChristinaBambina2 May 26, 2012 08:18 AM

                                                        My husband and I try to eat any leftovers within about 3 days, but at times have pushed it to 4 or even 5. Some older women in his family will eat things up to a week from their fridge (like pot roast or even riskier items like stuffing). I guess their bodies are used to it.

                                                        We won't even keep restaurant leftovers if we linger in a restaurant talking too long, or if we aren't going straight home. But my mom will take our things home and she and her husband will eat them. Her husband gets various stomach upsets quite often, but they don't seem to understand the connection.

                                                      2. i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Oct 16, 2008 01:50 PM

                                                        My boyfriend and I made New England style clam chowder with fresh clams from our farmers' market a few months ago. We'd done it before with delicious results. This time, I must have eaten a bad clam, because I was sick for days. My bf didn't get sick though... but my stomach is finicky. I love clam chowder, but I can't say I'll be eating it again any time soon!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
                                                          b
                                                          beauboffo Feb 20, 2014 01:30 AM

                                                          My wife and I ate all of the same things, except clam chowder. I have been sick 4 days. I will never eat clams again!

                                                          1. re: beauboffo
                                                            sunshine842 Feb 20, 2014 03:38 AM

                                                            not necessarily -- I've had several occasions for office lunches where everyone ate the same thing -- some of us were sick by dinner time, and others were fine.

                                                            You may have gotten a bad bit of something in a meal that was the same as what your wife ate.

                                                            It could have been the clams, but it wasn't necessarily.

                                                        2. l
                                                          LabRat Oct 16, 2008 10:46 AM

                                                          My background in microbiology makes me pretty strict about sanitation and time/temperature abuse while I am cooking.

                                                          Than and the fact that if I ever gave food poisoning to myself I would probably sue me for everything I own.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: LabRat
                                                            irisav Oct 16, 2008 03:43 PM

                                                            It's funny because my microbiology tends to make me a little bit more relaxed.

                                                            I mean I take all the sensible measures like washing hands, dedicated 'meat' boards etc.

                                                            But I'm going to start autoclaving my cutlery! Actually I remember my sister telling me about a christmas party at her work once which included the food safety team. The whole idea was to have a picnic in the park of salad and to buy some roasted chickens from the nearby chicken shop. The original plan was to purchase the chickens on the way to the park but the food safety people were having none of it, instead they insisted on buying the chickens in the morning and cooling them in the fridge before putting them in an esky with ice and monitoring the temperature every ten minutes! I mean sure I probably would have had a problem if it was an hour's walk from the shop to the park, but it was ten minutes not enough time for something that wasn't already there (and likely to make you sick anyway in which case cooling would have no effect) to grow and cut everyone down with food poisoning.

                                                            So I guess what I'm saying is that I use my knowledge to perform a case by case risk assessment.

                                                            1. re: irisav
                                                              greedygirl Oct 17, 2008 12:39 AM

                                                              On a recent holiday there was a woman staying in the same hotel who was a microbiologist. She drove everyone mad with her obsessive food hygiene issues. We happened to be in the same restaurant one night where she called me over and asked in hushed tones if I had eaten the food there. (Well, yes, that's why I was there.) Despite the fact that I told her it was fine, she refused to eat anything. Her husband was more than a little irritated - can't say I blame him.

                                                              1. re: greedygirl
                                                                l
                                                                LabRat Oct 17, 2008 06:13 AM

                                                                I don't really think about it much when I am out, restaurants and caterers have a vested interest in not poisoning their clients. My main thing is keeping things safe and sanitary when I am preparing food at home. It really isn't anything more than what I did when I worked in restaurant kitchens, but there have been several times that my wife would eat something that I would refuse to because it had been left out all night.

                                                            2. re: LabRat
                                                              a
                                                              asiansensation007 Oct 18, 2008 11:47 PM

                                                              i once took a microbiology class in college over a summer semster and sInce class lasted almost 5 hours many of us brought our own lunch. We would sit and eat around the lab tables, setting our food right next to petri dishes blooming cultures of who-knows what. for some reason it never occurred to us how incredibly stupid we were.

                                                              nothing like eating a balony sandwich and then breaking out the microscopes to dissect strains of west nile virus.

                                                              1. re: asiansensation007
                                                                Sam Fujisaka Oct 19, 2008 07:45 AM

                                                                You and your baloney sandwich obviously had nothing to worry about if you were examining viruses. You had to have been using an electron or atomic force microscope (although you can't really "break these out" heavy monsters that they are). Your virus would have been in some type of medium, tissue or liquid, carefully isolated to prevent any contamination, could be dead or alive, stained or not, and possibly reliant on newer immunocapture assay methods such as a chip that contains antibody molecules used to selectively capture viruses and then analyzed using an atomic force microscope.

                                                            3. ms. clicquot Oct 16, 2008 09:52 AM

                                                              I gave my entire family severe food poisoning as a teenager. My friend and I made one of those pizzas out of a box and put ground beef on it. There must have been something wrong with the beef and by the next night everyone in my family was seriously ill. At one point, I was so dehydrated, I passed out and went into shock. I really thought I might die. My mom is a nurse and was trying her best to help but she was very sick too (we lived way out in the country and no one could drive us anywhere!). After a day, it passed and we were all fine but it was pretty scary. I'm now borderline obsessive about kitchen safety - if I have any doubt, I throw it out! I've never been sick on my own food since.

                                                              1. t
                                                                takadi Oct 15, 2008 04:30 PM

                                                                I've suffered food poisoning several times, but the one time I actually gave myself food poisoning was during my food experimentation phase in college. Hunger had taken over every part of my brain and had pushed logic aside. I left some garlic bread partially wrapped in aluminum foil for a couple of weeks. After heating some canned clam chowder, I discovered the bread, slightly hard and actually still moist due to being wrapped in the foil. There was no mold, so I assumed it was perfect! After a strangely satisfying meal of two week old garlic bread dipped in canned chowder and a couple hours into my sleep, I woke with the most searing pain spreading through my abdomen. I rushed to the bathroom and must have been in there for two hours, expelling wastes from both ends.

                                                                Interestingly enough, that experience didn't teach me much about the multiple hangovers that ensued in the weeks afterwards

                                                                1. p
                                                                  pengcast Oct 15, 2008 01:08 PM

                                                                  My very first Mothers' Day my partner made dinner which consisted (as it always did) of ceasar salad and grilled chicken breast. As I was eating I thought to myself, if I had been cooking this I would have left in on the grill a little bit longer. But to be nice, I kept on eating. HUGE mistake. I got so sick for so long that I ended up in the ER with docs trying to figure out if it was safe for me to keep on breastfeeding. Honestly, I was sick for a week because by the time I went to the hosital I was totally dehydrated. So while I wasn't the one who did the cooking. I was the one who kept on eating suspect chicken.

                                                                  The silver lining: it doesn't take much of a Mothers' Day celebration to top that one.

                                                                  1. a
                                                                    Angela Roberta Oct 15, 2008 07:58 AM

                                                                    Interesting to read others say, "I wanted to die." That is a distinct memory I have of the one time that I had food poisoning. Or believe I had food poisoning, as I never went to a doctor.

                                                                    I didn't give it to myself, but I have always blamed the sliced pepperoni at a friend's house on Saturday night. On Monday morning, the illness struck. I myself am pretty vigilant about cleaning up chicken juices and such. And just this past week I had to hear aforementioned friend bragging that's he is not germaphobic, not overly concerned with cleanliness, and is all the stronger for it.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Angela Roberta
                                                                      BobB Oct 15, 2008 08:15 AM

                                                                      I've only suffered food poisoning once in my life, and it was from eating at a famous (not to be named) restaurant in Brussels. Never at home.

                                                                      1. re: Angela Roberta
                                                                        greygarious Oct 19, 2008 06:12 PM

                                                                        Your friend may have a point - I call it the Sally Strothers Principle because she used to do commercials for one of those charities for children in poor countries, wherein she bemoaned their having to play in putrid water. Clearly the exposure, from birth, to a higher level of contamination than children in developed countries gave them some reistance to pathogens that would make an unexposed child far sicker, or worse. So, a case of the trots from some stew that sat in the fridge for too many days probably gives the recovered victim an increased level of antibodies and infection-fighting cells. Scientists know that children raised in proximity to livestock have fewer allergies than those raised with less germ exposure. There is increasing evidence that immune systems which don't get enough chance to do what they're designed to do can turn on the individual's own body, resulting in auto-immune diseases. Long before there were warnings in the news about raw chicken, I cut it up on the same wooden board for decades, never giving it more than a slap-dash wipe with a soapy rag, then a short water rinse and air-dry. I never had any call to suspect this as a problem - perhaps I have acquired more resistance than if I'd always rigorously sanitized surfaces in contact with raw poultry. I make pasta carbonara with raw egg several times a year. When I bought supermarket eggs, perhaps 20% of the time the meal took the GI tract express route. Not pleasant, but forgotten by the next day. Now that (for other reasons) I use free-range local eggs, there's never a problem.

                                                                      2. pikawicca Oct 14, 2008 04:51 PM

                                                                        I haven't, but my little brother poisoned most of my extended family. He partially cooked a whole lot of chicken, left it on the kitchen counter for hours, then "finished" it on the grill. Luckily, I was on the east coast and avoided this California train wreck. 37 people ended up in various emergency rooms throughout the Bay area. My older brother barfed on my parents' avocado tree, and it never produced again. As you might, suppose, this topic is a minefield at family gatherings. (I will not eat anything cooked by little bro'.)

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: pikawicca
                                                                          CPla Oct 14, 2008 11:46 PM

                                                                          Never have from home cooked food, ie stuff I cook myself, but there is a price.

                                                                          I am freaky about washing my hands when I cook. Preparing 1 meal means washing my hands about 10 times or more, as in 2 hand towels soaking wet by the time I finish. Just a habit, I do not like to touch raw meats, or anything oily or sticky and then proceed to touch anything else, like knobs on the hob, drawer handles, or even other foods. As a side benefit, washing this much means no danger of cross-contamination or dirty hands creating problems.

                                                                          As for leftovers, I store in airtight containers, cool as rapidly as possible, and put in the fridge promptly. The few times I have forgotten to put them in the fridge, I have thrown them out the next morning. Usually the food still smells OK, but toxins released by bacteria are not necessarily going to announce their presence that way so better safe than sorry, especially in the tropical heat of Bangkok. No damage other than to my ego from cursing myself for being so absent minded. That and a bit of sulking because I hate the waste, but it is still better than doctors bills and illness. Or worse, making others sick.

                                                                          I do not keep leftovers in cans because of the metallic taste they take on. I never knew that was due to the can dissolving. Yikes, now that I know that, I guess its just as well.

                                                                          CPla

                                                                          http://www.chefpla.com

                                                                          1. re: CPla
                                                                            Ruth Lafler Oct 15, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                                            Good point about washing your hands -- I may have rather cavalier attitude toward food safety in some respects, but I'm pretty fussy about washing my hands, both while I'm cooking and in general. A bottle of liquid hand soap lives right on the edge of the kitchen sink.

                                                                            1. re: CPla
                                                                              c
                                                                              ChristinaBambina2 May 26, 2012 08:07 AM

                                                                              I have a system where I open germy things inside plastic grocery bags (so no germs get on counter) with one hand and put them directly into a pan for cooking, then I throw the whole bag out. Then there is a system for washing my hands afterwards (cleaning under nails, etc). Of course, not touching the faucet knob with germs hands is important, too, but I see so many people doing that.

                                                                              I know it sounds nuts to a lot of people that I'm so cautious, but in 26 years, I've never made my husband or myself sick with my cooking, and we eat most of our meals at home. The few times we've been sick have been when we've gone to restaurants (especially fast food places), and one time it was after eating a dinner a friend made for us.

                                                                              1. re: ChristinaBambina2
                                                                                porker May 26, 2012 08:37 AM

                                                                                Does it sound nuts? Yes and no.
                                                                                I'm not an expert and don't have scientific percentages on risk behaviour, but like many facets of life, plenty of people are likely overly cautious when it comes to food handling.
                                                                                Is proper food handling good practice? Of course.
                                                                                Is going "above and beyond" good practice? Debatable as I assume you get diminishing returns....
                                                                                Is getting obsessive over it good? (wear gloves, wash hands 3 times, count to 7, wash again, etc etc) I think most people will say no.
                                                                                My brother-in-law will not travel in airplanes because planes crash and people die. Does it sound nuts? He thinks this makes perfect sense and will point out that he was never killed in a plane crash....
                                                                                I'm just saying....

                                                                                1. re: ChristinaBambina2
                                                                                  twyst May 26, 2012 08:44 AM

                                                                                  "I know it sounds nuts to a lot of people that I'm so cautious, but in 26 years, I've never made my husband or myself sick with my cooking, and we eat most of our meals at home"

                                                                                  Whenever I cross the street I look both ways for elephant stampedes. In 34 years Ive never been trampled by an elephant!

                                                                                  1. re: twyst
                                                                                    porker May 27, 2012 06:51 AM

                                                                                    Hope Mrs. Porker doesn't reads this....Elephants - another worry!

                                                                              2. re: pikawicca
                                                                                a
                                                                                asiansensation007 Oct 18, 2008 11:31 PM

                                                                                is it really possible that the bacteria from the chicken can kill an avacado tree (or any plant for that matter)?

                                                                                1. re: asiansensation007
                                                                                  pikawicca Oct 19, 2008 05:33 PM

                                                                                  I can find no way to be delicate here. I believe that it was the extreme acidity and copious amounts of vomit that killed said tree, not the original bacterium. Apologies for the gross post.

                                                                              3. p
                                                                                plateofwander Oct 14, 2008 04:17 PM

                                                                                i haven't poisoned myself (yet), but i have been sick. after 10 days in tibet (where i ate myself into a stupor--some of the best food of my life), I contracted giardia, though that didn't include any vomiting. and while i was living in china (soon moving back!) i got a few upset stomachs.
                                                                                my ex, though, has the most sensitive stomach. everything made him sick. this led him to be paranoid, but mostly about strange things like water bottles and cups. even if they were clean, they had to be scrubbed and scalded.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: plateofwander
                                                                                  alanbarnes Oct 14, 2008 09:05 PM

                                                                                  During WWII, my grandfather got to spend a few weeks in Longzhou, China (Guangxi province) after putting his P-38 down in a nearby field. By the time he made it to town, he was desperate for water. His hosts, being conscientious about hygiene, served it to him just off the boil. Problem was that with the language barrier and his extreme thirst, he didn't decipher their warnings that it was very hot until it was too late. The good news was that he got a story that he milked for 40 years...

                                                                                2. chicgail Oct 14, 2008 06:03 AM

                                                                                  Yes. Self as idiot.

                                                                                  Went to a great seafood restaurant and brought home fish leftovers. Forgot them and left them in the car over night. It was summer and quite warm. First big mistake.

                                                                                  Remembered them, brought them in in the morning and put them in fridge. Second Big Mistake.

                                                                                  Didn't think about how they had sat overnight in car (??!!), took them out and ate them. Thought they still tasted pretty good. Third Big Mistake. Huge.

                                                                                  Two hours later I was as sick as I have ever been and will spare all the details.

                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                    swsidejim Oct 13, 2008 06:26 AM

                                                                                    nope, but then again I practice safe food handling and preperation. I dont eat chili left out overnight just to save a buck, or take any chances. With that said I don't waste food because I plan well, and am not careless.

                                                                                    My motto's: "when in doubt throw it out", and "better safe than sorry". I dont have a job that gives me the luxury to take chances some do, I cant call in sick, etc.., and have not done so in more than 4 years.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: swsidejim
                                                                                      mogo Oct 15, 2008 04:01 PM

                                                                                      My family has always left food out overnight on the stove (chili, soup, etc), but we always make a point of re-boiling it in the morning, and before meals. Nobody's gotten sick yet.

                                                                                      1. re: mogo
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        swsidejim Oct 16, 2008 05:25 AM

                                                                                        good luck with that habit. ;-D

                                                                                        1. re: swsidejim
                                                                                          alanbarnes Oct 16, 2008 09:12 AM

                                                                                          Sounds like they have had good luck with those practices. So have I. If you bring something to boil in a covered pot, turn the heat off, and leave it to cool overnight without removing the lid, where are the pathogens supposed to come from? Unless you have nighttime visitors who slip into your kitchen and sample your chili with unwashed hands, there just isn't a source for infection.

                                                                                          In my family, the preference was always to make soup, stew, or chili the evening before it was to be served and to leave it to cool on the stove overnight ("so that the flavors will marry"). That's the way my great-grandmother did it at the turn of the last century, and it's the way I do it now. There's nothing unsafe about it, which is why it hasn't caused food poisoning despite being used for tens of thousands of meals served by and to my extended family over more than a century.

                                                                                    2. porker Oct 12, 2008 11:43 PM

                                                                                      Strictly speaking, I would think most people give themselves food poisoning 'cause they generally feed themselves.

                                                                                      Anyway, I think theres basically 4 camps: people who have never been so incapacitated (read 'felt like they wanna die') and people who have been mildly sick (thats 2) as well as people who are so germ phobic that they cannot enjoy themselves, and people who seem to have the 'iron stomach' and don't care.

                                                                                      Yeah, these 4 camps have overlap. And I'm not passing judgement, 'cause I lived in all of them.
                                                                                      I'm guessing however, that Ruth, you never were lying on a hardwood floor, hoping that you would rather die than endure more chills and fever and toe-curling cramps and puke and diarhea and seizures and paralysis (the words seem rather flat).

                                                                                      Also, I don't care what you call it; 'food poisoning', 'food-borne ailment', or 'kick your ass cause you ate something that ain't good', your attitude changes when you get it.

                                                                                      I do agree that the possibility of getting sick is usually low, that it shouldn't slow you down when trying new things, etc etc

                                                                                      So whats my gripe? I dunno, its Sunday night and my sherry is finished...

                                                                                      So yeah, I've technically poisoned myself (lets see, steak at an all-inclusive 5-star in Mexico, cold-cuts from a grocer, and a taco from a bell-ringing franchise).

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: porker
                                                                                        Ruth Lafler Oct 13, 2008 09:44 AM

                                                                                        Actually, I had a bad case of food poisoning a couple of years ago -- maybe not wanting to die, but definitely lying on the cold tile bathroom floor wondering, to put it not so delicately, which end went on the toilet. It was my own stupid fault, too, because I was pretty sure what I ate was bad at the time I was eating it (cheese spread that tasted off and had a bubbly texture that was undoubtedly gas from the bacteria colony happily growing there). I convinced myself it was okay because it was straight from the store, but obviously it wasn't.

                                                                                        As for dogs -- their digestive tract is a lot, lot shorter than a human's (about a third, IIRC), and because food spends less time sitting in their gut while the bacteria do their work, they're much less susceptible to food-borne illnesses.

                                                                                      2. k
                                                                                        KevinB Oct 12, 2008 06:31 PM

                                                                                        Twice on trips to the Philippines, I contracted food poisoning. I was silly, and ate some salad the first time, and had ice in my drink the second time. That was before Immodium was available over the counter; now I never travel without it.

                                                                                        1. alanbarnes Oct 12, 2008 05:24 PM

                                                                                          Not yet, but I keep trying. Last weekend I made a sauce from chicken stock that had sat at room temperature for a nearly a week.

                                                                                          Admittedly the stock was from a chicken carcass that had spent an hour or two in the pressure cooker at 15 psi. That's better sterilization than most surgical instruments at your local hospital. But somebody put the pressure cooker away without realizing that it had food in it.

                                                                                          I discovered the pot and immediately dreaded the nastiness inside. Given the dynamic in our house, it didn't matter who put the pot in the cupboard - I was the one who had to deal with it. But on opening the top - nothing. No off smell, no weird stuff growing on top, nothing. It just smelled like chicken stock.

                                                                                          Having taken particularly aggressive positions in a couple of food safety threads here, I figured I'd put my (medical care) money where my mouth is. The pressure cooker went back on the stovetop for another hour, then I strained the stock, skimmed the fat, and boiled it for another 30 minutes or so to reduce it for use in a chipotle-orange glaze. Long and short? Tasty sauce, no ill effects. I even ground the carcass with rice and fed it to the dogs. They approved too.

                                                                                          On the other hand, I remember one time that my dad ate lunchmeat that was past its prime. No symptoms for two days, but then ... in his words, "First you're afraid that you're going to die. Then you're afraid that you're not."

                                                                                          The moral of the story, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that heat is your friend. Be VERY careful with foods you eat cold or tepid. A few hours at room temp or a few days in the fridge and they may pack a serious risk of food poisoning. But pasteurization - or better yet, sterilization - will render nearly anything safe.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                            Ruth Lafler Oct 12, 2008 06:21 PM

                                                                                            LOL. Reminds me of the last time I got into one of these "should I eat it" threads, only mine was turkey stock that had been in the back of the fridge for months. I used it to make soup and had no ill effects. Again, it had been sterile when I put it in the container, and had been in back (coldest part) of the fridge. I wouldn't recommend that, though.

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                              KaimukiMan Oct 12, 2008 06:58 PM

                                                                                              basically both of you had food that was "canned" A pressure cooker is virtually airtight (thats how it makes the pressure) and the chicken stock was in a sealed container, refrigerated to boot. You wouldn't think twice about eating a can of chicken broth that had been in the back of the cupboard for months im sure.

                                                                                              Only time I had food poisoning that I was partly culpable for was when I lived in Korea. Was out hiking with friends and we went past a farm that was selling fresh strawberries. We probably would have been fine if we had not let the farmer's wife rinse them off with the well water. All of us, Americans and Koreans alike were sick for days.

                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                bitsubeats Oct 12, 2008 09:21 PM

                                                                                                Yep I got sick in Korea a few years ago. I think it was from eating rotisserie chicken out of the back of some guy's car in a park. God it tasted good (especially with those pickled radishes) but it made me feel like crap.

                                                                                                My mother got the same stomach virus as me a week or so later, but we didn't know what it was from.

                                                                                            2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                              irisav Oct 12, 2008 10:06 PM

                                                                                              lol I remember a very good lecturer on medical micro echoing that quote very nearly verbatim.

                                                                                              Although I have to say I'm not convinced I would give anything a nod because my dog liked it! I remember my sister's dog eating his own deposits, and I can't count the number of times growing up that the family dogs would tuck into carrion - much to our disgust!

                                                                                              In all honesty though I think you were pretty lucky with your stock. Bacteria are pretty ingenious in their suite of defenses. Pathogens such as bacillus cereus and clostridium perfringens produce spores that are very heat resistant, so you may eliminate the bacteria with heat but the spores remain and will incubate and expand when conditions are optimal again i.e. in the GI tract. It is not only the presence of live bacteria that are of concern, the bacteria eliminated by heating may first have produced, when conditions were good, a heat stable toxin that can still cause significant pathology. Clostridium perfringens does both of these and is associated with contaminated poultry.

                                                                                              I'm a firm believer in common sense, rather than food safety extremes, and I think everyone has to draw the line somewhere and week old, room temperature chicken stock is probably my line.

                                                                                              As something of a disclaimer because I've encountered some strong responses in the past (although I've never known you to react this way alanbarnes, I always enjoy reading your posts and find them informative): my intention isn't to be aggressive or overly judgmental, and I think it is up to you what risks you're prepared to take in your own home.

                                                                                              PS. like the way slipped in the compliment?!

                                                                                              1. re: irisav
                                                                                                alanbarnes Oct 13, 2008 07:47 AM

                                                                                                Flattery will get you everywhere!

                                                                                                Seriously, if the stuff hadn't been in a sealed sterile retort there's no way I would have eaten it. But since the stock had been autoclaved and the lid had never been removed, I figured there was only an infinitesimal chance that any bugs had found there way in.

                                                                                                As far as the dogs go, we ate it first, then fed it to them. But I agree that their willingness to eat something is no indicator of its palatability. One of them doesn't draw the line at carrion, but is an unrepentant coprophage. Needless to say, I don't let them lick my face.

                                                                                              2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                johnb Oct 13, 2008 09:25 AM

                                                                                                Alan

                                                                                                That is a very interesting story, and I was earlier going to post a nearly identical point. I have often cooked in a pressure cooker then just put the whole thing aside for a while and gone ahead later. It seems to me if the weight is never released, effectively you have a large can of food; it is very unlikely that anything will get in there (depending on how good the seal is, both the weight and the gasket), so the contents should stay good for a long while, similar to canned food on the shelf. I wouldn't wait for weeks or anything like that, but it ought to stay good for a while.

                                                                                                I wonder if anyone has any hard information on this.

                                                                                              3. Sra. Swanky Oct 12, 2008 02:26 PM

                                                                                                Definitely guilty of poisoning myself here! With a complete lapse in common sense, I ate a turkey, cheese, lettuce, & mayo sub that had been sitting in my car in the hot August sun for 5 hours! (Dumb move, I know!) What took place after will make my husband chuckle forever...I didn't vomit, but my stomach filled with so much gas that it grew many times its size! Turns out I gave myself bocillism (spelling?) food poisoning - yup - the same stuff they use to inject into peoples' skin to ward off wrinkles! Could've made a little money from my self-induced agony! ;o)

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Sra. Swanky
                                                                                                  Ruth Lafler Oct 12, 2008 02:42 PM

                                                                                                  It's unlikely that is was botulism (read the symptoms) and if you did, it wasn't from the sandwich. Botulism only grows in an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment. It's mostly caused by improperly canned or preserved foods.

                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                    Sra. Swanky Oct 12, 2008 04:54 PM

                                                                                                    Didn't know that - the whole time I was thinking it was botulism. I knew all that air was from *something* related to that sandwich, because it happened right after I ate it! Thank goodness my judgement has improved since then!

                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                      irisav Oct 12, 2008 08:31 PM

                                                                                                      Yes if it was botulism, it most probably would have caused some degree of paralysis and then death.

                                                                                                      1. re: irisav
                                                                                                        sunshine842 May 26, 2012 08:33 AM

                                                                                                        Not necessarily. Botulism can be treated and isn't always fatal.

                                                                                                  2. p
                                                                                                    Pampatz Oct 12, 2008 02:03 PM

                                                                                                    I'm a food poisoning magnet. Twice I have ended up in the hospital. Both were restaurant meals - once from a seafood restaurant in Denver (Dr. thought it was the gumbo) and once at a beach restaurant in Mexico (seafood again).

                                                                                                    My most memorable bout was self-induced. In the early 70's I bought my meat at a small meat market that usually had excellent beef. Hamburger Helper was a new product on the grocery shelves. My husband was out of town and baby wasn't eating table food yet, so I made myself a hamburger helper casserole with fresh hamburger straight from the butcher. Two days of misery. I've never Hamburger Helper again nor did I ever use that butcher again.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Pampatz
                                                                                                      johnb Oct 13, 2008 09:18 AM

                                                                                                      Hard to imagine the casserole was the culprit in this one, unless you undercooked it and then let it sit around for a while. I've never used hamburger helper, but I thought you cook the casserole to a fair degree of doneness, ie temperature. If you did, and ate it fairly soon thereafter, and did not introduce anything more-or-less raw toward the end, then it's hard to see how the bugs got in there and did that.

                                                                                                      1. re: johnb
                                                                                                        p
                                                                                                        Pampatz Oct 13, 2008 04:38 PM

                                                                                                        Actually I liked blaming the Hamburger Helper. No telling what really caused it.

                                                                                                    2. StrawbrryF Oct 11, 2008 09:05 PM

                                                                                                      I'm just like you. My husband constantly yells at me about putting things away but I always forget something eat it, and am fine. Although I have gotten better since becoming a cat owner: there are so many things that can make them sick (butter, tomatoes, etc.) that I put those things away to make sure I don't kill my pets.
                                                                                                      But yeah, I've never given myself food poisoning. Whenever I've had any gastrointestinal malaise, it was from restaurant-prepared food: once, I got norovirus on a cruise and once my husband got sick from my sushi and passed it onto me.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: StrawbrryF
                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                        lucyis Oct 12, 2008 09:58 AM

                                                                                                        Many years ago my mother, in a rare cooking mood, made her own cheese blintzes. She left the egg batter on the counter for hours before creating the crepes and gave us all food poisoning. I could not look at a blintz for decades.

                                                                                                      2. DiveFan Oct 11, 2008 03:31 PM

                                                                                                        Really bad, only once. A few years ago I let some homemade bleu cheese dressing hang around too long; only ingredients were sour cream, lemon juice and bleu cheese. When it became a little runny I should have been suspicious, but I had some anyway.

                                                                                                        Two days and massive doses of Pepto Bismol later, I was still queasy.

                                                                                                        1. iluvtennis Oct 11, 2008 02:56 PM

                                                                                                          I've only had one serious confirmed bout of food poisoning, and it came from a restaurant...and that is one vacation i will NEVER forget.

                                                                                                          1. f
                                                                                                            flowergarden129 Oct 11, 2008 02:10 PM

                                                                                                            I, on the other hand, tend to be fairly cautious about food safety. It all started when I was a teenager, and made myself a salad using some Ranch Dressing that had been sitting out on the table for a couple of hours from somebody else's salad. A few hours later, I was driving somewhere and had to pull off the road as I suddenly started vomiting. I vomited continuously for 36 hrs., around the clock. I will never, never, knowingly risk that experience again. And, that salad dressing didn't smell bad, look funny, or anything else.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: flowergarden129
                                                                                                              Ruth Lafler Oct 11, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                                                              I'm guessing it wasn't the Ranch dressing, though -- salad dressing is a poor medium for bacteria, and a couple of hours isn't really long enough for it to become toxic. Unless you cultured it, there's no way of knowing for sure it was the salad -- people tend to blame the last "suspect" thing they ate, but food poisoning can take up to 36 hours to develop. If it was the salad, it was probably something else in it. When you make a salad you're cutting/tearing an bunch of raw ingredients, so there's lots of potential for contamination or cross-contamination.

                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                johnb Oct 12, 2008 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                I agree. As Alan Barnes pointed out continuously on that previous thread, things with acid in them (which would include salad dressings such as ranch) are not only not good culture media for bacteria, but actually inhibit bacterial growth in things around them. If it was the salad that got flowergarden the culprit was most likely some contamination of an ingredient in the salad, perhaps from an unclean cutting board or who knows what.

                                                                                                                Was it potato salad by any chance?? LOL

                                                                                                                As for my experiences, I can recall two instances of food poisoning, neither at home where I routinely eat things that have been left out overnight. One was from a rare hamburger at a well-thought-of restaurant in DC, and the other was from seafood at a restaurant in Temuco, Chile, most likely raw sea urchin which I happen to love and eat at any opportunity. C'est la vie. It happens.

                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                  irisav Oct 12, 2008 09:17 PM

                                                                                                                  YEs! I was going to post on this and was glad someone else had beaten me to it. When people get diarrhea and/or vomiting they tend to blame the most recent meal as the suspect. Sometimes it is, but that usually is only if the body is reacting to a toxin produced by a bacterium (as is usually the case with s. aureus food poisoning) however when the disease is due to colonisation of the GI tract then the exposure is more likely to have occurred upwards of 8 hours ago (and may in fact have occurred several days previously depending on the infectious dose).

                                                                                                                  Also gastro-intestinal illness is frequently caused by viral pathogens, or waterborne pathogens (viral or bacterial or protozoan). How often when people to get sick do they think about the water they've consumed? In part because many of we chowhounders live in developed nations we are afforded the luxury of not having to, but there is always a risk. For instance if you've been away from home for several days/weeks and then return and grab a glass of water from the tap it is important to allow for a first flush to pass in order to diminish any potential pathogens that had been expanding in the languishing water of the household pipes. (although rather than let it drain away you should capture it in a bucket and water the plants - wasting water is criminal as far as I'm concerned - although I live on the driest continent in the middle of a very prolonged drought).

                                                                                                                  With the exception of stories posted about large group food poisonings and those related to shellfish I think there is a reasonable chance that many of the stories single out the wrong suspects or may not be food related or even bacterially related occurrences.

                                                                                                                  As a response to the OP - it's very easy to get food poisoning. And as a completely finicky aside 'food poisoning' is a bit of a misnomer. The food itself is not poisonous, so more accurately it should be referred to as food-borne illness (or food-borne infection/intoxication). Generally you should be ok provided you are sensible about
                                                                                                                  food preparation and storage. For instance, if a pot of bolognese was sitting on the bench over night I wouldn't worry about if it was the dead of winter - but I'd think twice about it if it was the height of summer, or your indoor heating was keeping the house warm all night.

                                                                                                                  1. re: irisav
                                                                                                                    f
                                                                                                                    flowergarden129 Oct 19, 2008 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                    You may be right, but the dressing was the only thing I'd eaten that the rest of my family hadn't had over the last couple of days. But, who knows.

                                                                                                              2. Ruth Lafler Oct 11, 2008 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                Refrigeration is a relatively new thing -- human beings survived for tens of thousands of years without it. Furthermore, in many countries even today people don't refrigerate a lot of foods that Americans would consider necessary. It really depends a lot on the condition of the food to begin with. For example, chili at the time you finish cooking has been simmering for quite a while and is basically sterile. For it to grow nasty bugs it would have to be contaminated with something. Most of the nasty food poisoning bacteria aren't just floating around waiting to contaminate your food the minute you turn the heat off -- there would have to be an actual source of contamination. Not that it won't eventually start growing bacteria and spoil, but it's not going to happen overnight.

                                                                                                                If you look at the amount of food poisoning people get in relation to the number of potential exposures, the number is astronomically low. Most of us eat several times a day, and usually more than one type of food at a time. So, let's say, you eat ten different foods in the course of a day, times 365 days, that's 36,500 potential food poisoning exposures a year, and most people goes years without getting food poisoning.

                                                                                                                So called "out of date" or "expired" food is a completely different issue. Basically, those dates are meaningless -- there are no standards for them, and they mean different things in different contexts. What they usually mean is that the producer believes that under normal conditions the product will maintain its quality (not even necessarily spoilage) for at least that long. Those dates, and many "refrigerate after opening" instructions are basically the producers' way of covering their asses.

                                                                                                                Finally, "spoiled" and "unsafe" are not necessarily the same thing. Sour milk won't necessarily make you sick -- it just tastes bad. Most molds are harmless. On the other hand, food can be contaminated by bacteria and look and taste fine. I use common sense and don't sweat it too much.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                  KevinB Oct 12, 2008 06:27 PM

                                                                                                                  Ruth, I love you like a sister, but your arithmetic needs some work. 10 foods x 365 days is 3,650, not 36,500.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                    Bryn Oct 17, 2008 08:39 PM

                                                                                                                    Your food is most definately not sterile after cooking for a few hours on the stove in a pot (not a pressure cooker). Yes you've killed most of the bacteria, but what about the heat resistant strains of pathogens and the spore forming pathogens? If your chili is temperature abused or contaminated toxin forming bacteria can also grow to large enough populations that they can start producing toxins and heat doesn't inactivate all of the toxins.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                      Lemon Curry Oct 18, 2008 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                      If you are not in the habit of autoclaving your chili, then it is not bacteria-free. BUT, as long as what you are eating does not contain or has not come into contact with undercooked poultry, you are unlikely to have an environment where salmonella or campylobacter (responsible together for 79% of cases of food poisoning) will propagate. So, personally, I don't sweat it, but I realize I am still living somewhat dangerously.

                                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                                      Sherri Oct 11, 2008 01:40 PM

                                                                                                                      Many years ago, as a new Navy wife/bride I decided to host a Welsh Rarebit Brunch for my husband's squadron of about 50 officers. For serious budgetary reasons (we had no money), I timed this to be the Sunday following a Saturday night wine & cheese tasting at the O Club knowing that I could talk the stewards out of the leftover cheese.

                                                                                                                      I woke up early and grated pounds of cheese making my "secret" recipe. I was quite proud of myself. The rarebit was ready early so I kept it warm for several hours before serving .............
                                                                                                                      You-all can guess the result of using last night's cheese (that sat out for hours on end) then kept over barely simmering water for a couple of hours. Fifty pilots, assorted wives & girlfriends were sick as dogs -- no one showed up for work on Monday. The flight surgeon (lucky skunk) knocked his whole family out with ??? because he & his wife were both too ill to care for the children. The rest of us had to tough it out for a while.

                                                                                                                      For a long time, the squadron joke was to invite newbies to my house for Sunday Brunch.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Sherri
                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                        jpc8015 Jan 7, 2014 01:04 PM

                                                                                                                        Cheese can safely be stored at room temperature for days.

                                                                                                                        1. re: jpc8015
                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                          Sherri Jan 7, 2014 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                          Granted, many cheeses are kept at 'room temperature' but the O Club room in Southern California and a European cheese safe can be two very different temperatures. Add to that whatever sanitary conditions involved the many dozens of people touching the cheese chunks with their bare fingers ........ That said, keeping the rarebit over the gently simmering water for hours created a perfect microbe-growing environment, or so said the Navy lab who tested us all.
                                                                                                                          Without a doubt, it was a brunch to remember!

                                                                                                                      2. chowser Oct 11, 2008 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                        My parents friends had a huge dinner party. There must have been over to 50 people, including children. And everyone came down with food poisoning. After going home, some ended up calling ambulances and many ended up in the hospital and it was a miserable experience for everyone. It took days to recover. I remember feeling so sick that I just hoped I'd die to put me out of my misery (must have been worst than childbirth w/ no drugs because I never thought that during child birth). Decades later they're still mortified. I've never given myself food poisoning but I'd never do anything that might put my guests through that, if I can help it. I've read, too, that many cases of stomach viruses are food poisoning. I'll take risks with myself but never others, especially people w/ compromised immune systems (eg., my father is in his 70's and has diabetes). Statistically, I'm not likely to die in a car accident but I still buckle up.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                          greedygirl Oct 11, 2008 04:07 PM

                                                                                                                          Ha! That reminds me of the time my friend's Dad gave his family food poisoning - on Christmas Day! The culprit was some oysters he'd bought as a special treat. They knew it was the oysters because he gave some to the neighbours, who also came down with food poisoning!

                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                                            takadi Oct 15, 2008 04:24 PM

                                                                                                                            Man, the reputation the host must have now!

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                              ChristinaBambina2 May 26, 2012 07:51 AM

                                                                                                                              A friend of ours made us sick once when she served us some stuffed pasta shells. Her whole family got sick, too. She said maybe she had left the cottage cheese out on the counter too long before using it.

                                                                                                                              If I had made guests sick, I would've felt really bad, but she didn't seem very concerned about it.

                                                                                                                              I realized the other day that in 26 years of cooking for my husband and me, I've never made us sick with anything. I do handle food very carefully. Most of you would laugh at my eggs, chicken, fish, pork, and beef-handling procedures.

                                                                                                                              Like chowser said, a lot of times people think they have the flu, but it's really food poisoning. There are stronger germs nowadays (like antibiotic-resistant salmonella, e Coli, etc), so it makes sense to be careful.

                                                                                                                              I can't stand watching chefs on TV, where they contaminate everything all around the kitchen after handling germy foods. Ick.

                                                                                                                            2. Pawsinhand Oct 11, 2008 01:24 PM

                                                                                                                              Yes....many, many years ago, when I was younger and less financially stable, I did manage to give myself food poisoning. I was living in my first apartment and barely made enough money to cover my rent. My food budget was paltry and I could not afford to be picky. One of the items I did buy was canned fruit (cheaper than fresh at the time). I used to get 2 servings from each can. One night, I opened a can of fruit and ate half. Instead of putting the remaining fruit in a bowl and covering it....I put the can in the fridge. Next night, I proceeded to eat the remaining fruit....I was sick for days. Lesson learned: don't leave food in a can. Since that time, I've had no issues and while I am concerned about food safety...I do sometimes leave food out , but not anything highly perishable and not when it's really hot.

                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Pawsinhand
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                                                                                                                                asiansensation007 Oct 12, 2008 08:13 PM

                                                                                                                                leaving food in a can makes you sick? i had no idea.

                                                                                                                                1. re: asiansensation007
                                                                                                                                  alanbarnes Oct 12, 2008 08:40 PM

                                                                                                                                  Um, no.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: asiansensation007
                                                                                                                                    Miss Needle Oct 13, 2008 06:14 AM

                                                                                                                                    I've always been taught not to leave food in a can in the fridge overnight because there's a chance that some of the metals that seep in the food, making you sick (as well as leaving a yucky taste).

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                                                                      Miss Needle Oct 13, 2008 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                      Okay. Found this on the nbc site. This is from the FDA:

                                                                                                                                      Q: Is it okay to leave canned food in its original can after it has been opened?

                                                                                                                                      A: We contacted the FDA for the answer to your question. It says keeping food in its can after opening is considered safe, but the best practice is to put the left-over food in containers designed for refrigerator use. The FDA says cans are made to protect food from bacteria, spoilage, and loss of moisture and flavor before they are opened, but they are not designed for refrigerator storage. So storing food in proper containers will help to keep it fresh.

                                                                                                                                      The FDA says if you store food in a can, there's a chance the tin or iron will dissolve and the food will develop a metallic taste. The FDA says food containing high concentrations of tin can cause nausea. So, your best option is to just store your left-over canned food in containers.

                                                                                                                                      http://www.nbc4.com/answerstoaskliz20...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle
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                                                                                                                                        nkeane Oct 13, 2008 01:23 PM

                                                                                                                                        I can see that, especially in a highly acidic food like fruit, canned tomatoes, etc.....just how much tin do you need to ingest to get sick though?

                                                                                                                                        never given myself FP. had it one time from an undercooked burger(which i ordered that way, so in no way blame the restaurant) but other then that im fairly impervious it seems. pizza on the counter for a day, check. pot of something sitting on the back burner for a day or two, check. If it passes the smell test, I will probably eat it!LOL

                                                                                                                                        1. re: nkeane
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                                                                                                                                          Chowrin May 26, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                                                                                                          depends on if you have a metal allergy or not. too much total makes my dh sick (it's the zinc i think)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Miss Needle
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                                                                                                                                          asiansensation007 Oct 18, 2008 11:33 PM

                                                                                                                                          thanks.

                                                                                                                                          good to know i was not sabotaging my gastrointestinal health.

                                                                                                                                          i rarely do it, but for the few instances it does occur, i wont feel a sense of impending doom

                                                                                                                                  2. Glencora Oct 11, 2008 01:23 PM

                                                                                                                                    I agree, pretty much. I've become sick from mussels and raw tuna from restaurants, but I've never made myself sick at home. When I was growing up, my mother sometimes would put out frozen chicken to thaw and leave it on the counter for the entire day while she was at work. It sometimes smelled funny, but never sickened us.

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