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Do You Fear Making Your Guests Ill?

Just wondering if I'm the only one who worries before I host a holiday dinner if somehow everyone is going to get food poisoning. It has never happened and I'm really careful with refrigeration, etc. But I always feel a little fearful that everyone is going to get sick. (Wow, as I'm writing this I'm realizing that it sounds kind of nuts.) Maybe its because I'm married to a Gastroenterologist, but maybe I'm not the only one?

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  1. Depends what you mean. It's a scary idea to sicken people, so I am very vigilant in taking precautions. But I guess I trust the precautions enough that, when the dinner comes, I'm not at all worried.

    Do you feel anxious during the event, and even when you're confident that you dotted your i's and crossed your t's?

    Whatever you're feeling, you can bet you're not alone. All kinds of people out here!

    1. Funny you should mention that. I worry when I cook pork medium rare. I know it's fine and have never had a problem but my family so deeply ingrained that pork needs to be like shoe leather to be safe that it still kinda picks at the back of my mind.


      1 Reply
      1. re: shrimp13

        My mother did that to turkey! I never knew that turkey could be moist until I was about 30. I'm fine when people are here, but I think about it in the weeks leading up to the event. I just can't imagine how awful it would be to make your family and friends ill from your cooking.

      2. I can honestly say that I do not fear making anyone I cook for sick. I abide by basic rules of food safety, but I am not not overly vigilant. For example, I cook meat to temperature doneness below the FDA guidelines - pork to 140-145, turkey to 160, ground beef to 125.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MGZ

          Just did a turkey breast to 160-165-ish (obviously not a digital thermometer), and the center meat and bone was pink. So, I'd still shoot for upper 160s/170 next time.

          1. re: pine time

            I appreciate your concern, but I am afraid you might be slightly missing my point. Turkey set to rest at 160 has the juiciness we enjoy - a tinge of pink is ok. I'll cook 8 or 9 of them a year. In fairness, though, we are lucky enough to have a local farm that raises free range birds we buy fresh.

          1. re: beevod

            Good point. My infused liquors and "Here, try this" approach to cocktails is much more likely to cause problems.

          2. I don't worry about anyone getting ill - but the guest who got a fish bone stuck in her throat put a bit of a dampener on the evening. She had to go to A & E to have it removed and, as we'd all been drinking, we had to phone a family member to come and drive her to the hospital. That was 25 years back - I don't think she's been back for dinner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Harters

              So the worst day was had by the fish....

            2. Yes but not because of cooking techniques.
              I worry when I serve shellfish (cooked or raw) and I worry when I serve raw fish.
              We buy from reputable suppliers, but you just never know.

              2 Replies
              1. re: AdamD

                Last year I worried about serving chopped liver, brisket and potato kugel to a guest who is a cardiologist. A few days before the seder he had chest pain. On the day of our seder, instead of eating the chopped liver, he was having bypass surgery.

                1. re: DaisyM

                  Bummer. But that has nothing to do with you. With any meal, you need to know your guests and serve food that they will want to eat, even if its a traditional holiday meal.

              2. We really only entertain at Thanksgiving and Christmas and don't serve anything that I would worry will make people sick so that hasn't been a concern. But as someone with lifetime GI problems, I do think dealing with GI problems (your own or by association) makes you more aware of these things. For example, I wouldn't serve spinach and carrots because both cause me horrible GI side effects so I would do one but both together.

                1. Almost never, though there was one occasion when I got worried people might get sick, or at least refuse to eat something. It was a chocolate mousse from a very reputable cookbook that was made with half a dozen raw eggs...an hour before company arrived I chickened out and cooked them in a water bath. The only other time there was a food-related issue was at an outdoor wedding party. One of the guests ate a piece of proscuitto with a wasp on it....came to see me about half an hour later to let me know...........thank goodness no swelling shut of the throat and she apologized for not noticing the wasp!

                  1. Twice I've woried aobut this. Last summer I cooked a 50 lb pig in a home made china box. I picked up the pig the day before, rubbed spices all over him and then kept it on ice overnight. Next day it cooked for 10 hours and was served 3 hours later than planned. Temps in the 180 to 190 range. Having never handled that much meat for so long and then cooking it in a different manner I was concerned. Luckily no one got sick.

                    Recently I've started curing meat at home. Haven only tried it on myself and my wife, but it can be a bit disconcerting to eat somethign that has been hanging at 55 degrees for 2 weeks. Hey it only had a little mold. There again no one has gotten sick. Crossing fingers.


                    1. I have never even thought about it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. It's never even crossed my mind.
                        But now you've mentioned it no doubt I'll be paranoid next time I entertain!

                        1. I have a strong constituency and even when others get sick, I haven't. Added to which, I often cook for some older relatives with health problems and little children. If I'm cooking for them, I'm extra careful. And, if I cook anything that doesn't follow health standards, eg. serving raw eggs, I'll warn everyone first.

                          When I was younger, I went to a big dinner w/ my parents at their friends' house and everyone came down with terrible food poisoning; some ended up in the hospital. That keeps me on my feet on being extra safe when it comes to dinner parties.

                          1. I can't say I've ever stopped to think about it aside from not feeding them raw eggs. (although that's a bit silly in itself - I lick the cake batter from the bowl all the time after the cake has gone into the oven, and eat nice runny eggs, and I've never had any ill results. But the thought of making chocolate mousse or mayonnaise with raw egg squicks me.)

                            I worry much more about what happens to the leftovers - getting them into the fridge promptly and refusing to eat them when other people leave them out on the table for hours.

                            1. No... never. But I did make a nice dinner for a date once and he got sick afterward. But I didn't, so I'm not sure it was the food.

                              1. Once some of my sisters friends ended up having pin worms a few weeks after I had made her birthday dinner..but I think that had more to do with the camping trip they went on after than with my cooking... I hope!!!!

                                1. The Original Poster may have right to trepidation
                                  in cooking each day for a Gastroenterologist.

                                  The closest I came to such tough inspection
                                  was back when I dated an Internist.

                                  But she grabbed up the chopsticks and ate like a hog
                                  when I served up a dish of raw pork sashimi.

                                  We chuckled together about hype of Trichina
                                  now many years gone from our food supply.

                                  No illness ensued, but that might be because
                                  I sliced from the loin, and not from the butt.

                                  1. For a while I was taking lunch once a week to a terminally ill friend, and I was very very careful of cleanliness. I was so afraid of making her ill. It would have been horrible for her caretaker, and her.

                                    When I cook for guests, I do try to watch cleanliness and I also try to watch out for fresh food that might not be up to snuff. If I cook a turkey, I don't worry too much about that. But one year an invited Thanksgiving guest pitched a fit about the way I was thawing the turkey and had me extremely upset. I mean I had thawed turkeys many, many times. She was convinced I was going to make her and hers sick. This was a bad experience, and frankly it stressed our friendship badly.

                                    1. If my night's sleep was contingent on worrying about whether or not my food was making other people sick, I'd NEVER sleep, I'd have bags under my eyes, and I'd probably drink way too much. Wait, all of the above is true! But....it's not because I'm worried about food safety issues. Hasn't happened yet. Don't think it will. : )

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        For sure it is best to slumber in rest
                                        that your cookin' will never kill no one.

                                        Just gifts to the tongues of each of your guests.
                                        That's livin'.

                                      2. No. I ask ahead of time if anyone has a food allergy or dietary restrictions due to religious beliefs, but apart from that, sky's limit and there are no restrictions to technique and no other restrictions to ingredients.

                                        My guests have become ill every so often but it has been due to overconsumption of alcohol (they don't drink water).