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Oct 11, 2008 01:11 PM

Have you ever given yourself food poisoning?

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 I regularly eat stuff which is supposedly out of date - never had a problem.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.


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  1. 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.

    1. 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

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

          1. re: asiansensation007

            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

              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.


              1. re: Miss Needle

                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

                  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


                  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. 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

              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

                Man, the reputation the host must have now!

                1. re: chowser

                  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. 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

                    Cheese can safely be stored at room temperature for days.

                    1. re: jpc8015

                      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. 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

                      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

                        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

                          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.