Monday, July 15, 2013


It is very embarrassing when the author of a book (and blog) on food safety comes down with food poisoning - which is what happened to me last week. And no, I did not die. But in the midst of my misery, I kept making up titles for my obituary in the New York Times. Assuming of course, that they would bother running it. "Food Safety Author Dies of Food Poisoning" came out the winner.

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,



Corporate catering said...

Food poisoning can develop at any point in one’s life and there is no strong evidence it is caused by people being too clean. Food allergy is often associated with Westernized society and there are clear differences in levels of food allergy reported in urban and rural we should improved the food safety system.

Health And Safety Consultant Peterborough said...

I'm very sorry to hear that and I beg your pardon that the title of the blog actually made me laugh. The person who knows about food poisoning dies of food poisoning. That came to me very as a joke. I should have not laughed though. Food poisoning can happen to anyone. We can't see the bacteria in our food.

Arnold Brame