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marlena spieler

food safety

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The good news is that you probably didn't get sick from Willi's. The overwhelming majority of food poisoning cases are infections that take 24 to 72 hours to develop before you feel the syptoms. What you remember is of course the last thing you ate, but it's rarely the culprit.

Although it's true that one typically associates food poisoning with the last thing that one ate before its onset, and that it was typically an earlier meal that's the real culprit, the time between consumption and onset of symptoms is typically much shorter, on the order of 6-8 hours. There's no actual "infection" in these cases---illness is the result of your consuming toxins produced by the bacteria (typically staphylococcus) before you ate it, generally because the food was kept neither sufficiently hot nor sufficiently cold (after having been inadvertently inoculated with the bacteria during preparation). The rapidity of symptom onset and the degree of discomfort are somewhat dose-related: the more toxin built up in the food the quicker and worse the symptoms.

So depending on the timing of VivreManger's symptoms relative to his meal at Willi's, that meal may well have been the culprit.

One of the worst bouts of food poisoning I've ever experienced was in Paris, the result of a meal in a Basque restaurant. Fortunately my husband ate different food, and was able to take care of me.

Sorry, the occurence of symptoms within 6- 8 hours is not typical. Too much of what people believe to be true about food poisoning is simply not supported by facts.

May I refer you the link below for an excellent and meticulously researched article last year (10/26/05) about restaurants and food poisoning in the San Francisco Chronicle by Janet Fletcher.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...y&sn=010&sc=189

I'll be at Willis later this month and am quite sure it will be safe and delicious as always.

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I have long held that one should never get between a gastroenterologist and an ID specialist; dangerous ground there.

So folks, as informative as this interchange was, how do we settle what is not a theoretical issue. We all get GI stuff at one time or another, when travelling and eating. And, I have a hunch both of you are using the CDC for your side's argument. What are the rest of us poor slobs to believe if the experts disagree?


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I have long held that one should never get between a gastroenterologist and an ID specialist; dangerous ground there.

So folks, as informative as this interchange was, how do we settle what is not a theoretical issue.  We all get GI stuff at one time or another, when travelling and eating.  And, I have a hunch both of you are using the CDC for your side's argument.  What are the rest of us poor slobs to believe if the experts disagree?

Sorry to get off thread. One should always be very very careful about accusing a restaurant of food poisoning, it's just too hard to prove and very unfair to the establishment.

That being said, great thread, thanks to all for contributing, especially John Talbott for his many great links. I can't wait to get back to Paris later this month and will share any good finds.

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this isn't really a food safety observation, but it seemed to fit with the thoughts regarding not eliminating all bugs so that our systems could build up a natural immunity - my theory is that we should all eat a bit of fast food several times a year so that if we are ever kidnapped, our body systems won't rebel at the food we are forced to eat by our kidnappers!

Close, it's not that we build up a natural immunity, it's that we build up bugs that dont bother us and they out-compete the bad bugs.

The chicken producers have seen the research done on various Lactobacillus and Bifedobacterium strains on this and are using it.

http://www.bioinfo.com/fbdnewusda.html

but it is not generally known by the public. The benefical bacteria (found in fermented products, very notably unpasturized Kim Che and yogurt) are what allow some people to do just fine in an environment that would give others a case of food poisoning, and being overly sanitary (and ingested antibiotics) are a good way of stripping your digestive system of its defenses.

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There's a couple of other bug hiding places that few people think of. The knobs/buttons on the stove, and pot handles.

At least the pot handles get washed every so often.

But for the most part, "what does not kill you makes you stronger."


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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Sorry, the occurence of symptoms within 6- 8 hours is not typical. 

But it's also not atypical. Depending on the etiology, onset can be rapid, and particularly rapid if there's a lot of pre-formed toxin in the food item.

There's basically no way to know in this instance.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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There's a couple of other bug hiding places that few people think of. The knobs/buttons on the stove, and pot handles.

You don't scrub down all the surfaces of the stove, including the buttons and knobs?


Can you pee in the ocean?

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My only food poisoning experience was pretty clearly food poisoning, and also pretty clearly the restaurant's fault: about 6-8 folks in my extended family ate from the same Canadian Bacon & Pineapple Pizza (consumed within minutes of delivery, mind you), and each of them was sick within about 12 hours. Several others who were around that day did not eat the pizza, and did not get sick.

I have a tangential question: I have a persistent problem with a mildewy smell in my kitchen, particularly on sponges and rags, despite pretty thorough cleanings, with stuff like 409 and chlorine bleach. I don't think mildew is a particular food poisoning hazard, but it's unpleasant. Any suggestions?

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There's a couple of other bug hiding places that few people think of. The knobs/buttons on the stove, and pot handles.

You don't scrub down all the surfaces of the stove, including the buttons and knobs?

I do, now. Before the wife's health problems, they only got cleaned when visibly dirty. Then we had to look at what could be potential causes of infection. Those two came up as ones we hadn't thought of. Also the kitchen phone, as well as cookbooks. Although the cookbooks work well in a gallon ziplock bag now.

And I almost forgot the bottle of dishwashing detergent. The outside of it can get pretty bad, if you think about it.


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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My only food poisoning experience was pretty clearly food poisoning, and also pretty clearly the restaurant's fault: about 6-8 folks in my extended family ate from the same Canadian Bacon & Pineapple Pizza (consumed within minutes of delivery, mind you), and each of them was sick within about 12 hours. Several others who were around that day did not eat the pizza, and did not get sick.

I have a tangential question: I have a persistent problem with a mildewy smell in my kitchen, particularly on sponges and rags, despite pretty thorough cleanings, with stuff like 409 and chlorine bleach. I don't think mildew is a particular food poisoning hazard, but it's unpleasant. Any suggestions?

Your sponges and rags aren't thoroughly drying. Elevate them and let air circulate around them to dry them before they start to ferment.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Sponges and rags do harbor lots of germs. My sponges get either a 2 min spin in the microwave or a 10 min soak in a bleach solution. Bleach does make them smell fresh.

I have in the past used the same wood cutting board for all things. I scrub in hot water with plenty of soap and have never had a problem nor I have heard of anyone getting sick after eating at my house. I have not used plastic cutting boards but after getting my new Boos board I have picked up some of those thin plastic sheets and have used it for cleaning chicken or cutting up a roast for grinding. The big board is harder to clean due to the size and weight.

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