Monday, July 15, 2013
FOOD SAFETY AUTHOR DIES OF FOOD POISONING
So what food was the culprit? Frankly, I don't know. I am pretty careful. But I suspect chives. What happened is that I had a sudden craving for chives, and the only jar (yes, opened) that I could find was in the refrigerator, but had no "best by" date on it. I did look. So I pretended to myself that it would be fine. But in all honesty, those chives might have been years old - and maybe contaminated with Listeria bacteria which can survive in very well in cold conditions and even multiply.
Anyway, let me tell you again, food poisoning is no fun. The only comfort I had was that at least 10 of my friends have come down with food poisoning of one kind or another in the last 12 months, some of them more than once. In many cases it was from restaurant food or deli take-out. Others thought that the cause was fresh fruit or vegetables. Some blamed meat or seafood. But none had real proof, any more than I did. The tendency is to suspect the last food you ate, but that may not be true. Some kinds of food poisoning have a long lead time between ingestion and feeling sick.
Listeria monocytogenes - so common in our food these days, actually has one of the longest lead times. It can take from 3 to 70 days to make you ill; occasionally even longer. The fastest one I can think of is a mold toxin that can take just minutes. Salmonella bacteria, one of the most common causes of food poisoning, usually take 12-72 hours from the time you ingested them. The different E.coli vary in toxicity, but let's think in terms of 1-10 days. In all cases, a lot will depend on how vulnerable you are, and how big a dose you got, and of course, exactly which kind you got.
Off to recover from my food poisoning..(By the way, I tossed out the chives, just in case).
To your good health,