July 14, 2024

How Do You Know If You Have a Clostridium Perfringens Infection?

Many food poisoning outbreaks have been caused by Clostridium perfringens, a bacteria that produces a toxin as it grows. The pathogen also can produce toxins in the intestines after it is ingested. This bacteria causes almost one million cases of foodborne illness in the United States every year. How do you know if you have a Clostridium perfringens infection? The bacteria is found on raw meat and poultry, in the intestines of animals, and in the environment. C. perfringens makes spores that protect the bacteria from stomach acid and cleaning solutions. Common sources of this pathogen include poultry, gravies, meat, and foods that are cooked in large batches. The bacteria is anaerobic, which means it grows in conditions without oxygen. Large batches of food are the perfect … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers: Raw Cookie Dough Edition

Last week, an editor for Slate magazine, L.V. Anderson, wrote an article entitled: "Salmonella and raw eggs: How I've eaten tons of cookie dough and never gotten sick". In it, she says that she has eaten about 360 raw eggs in her lifetime and has never contracted a Salmonella infection. From that, she infers that raw cookie dough is not really dangerous. This story is full of logical fallacies. First, she is committing the logical fallacy of a small sample size: herself. Extrapolating from her personal experiences to the entire nation is extremely foolish. The plural of anecdote is not data. In addition, she may have gotten sick from eating a Salmonella-contaminated egg, but didn't even know it. The incubation period for these infections is up to three days, so she most likely did … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers Update

Misti D. Turnbull, WSB-TV Channel 2, Managing Editor talked to me this morning and said they were pulling the story about possible Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in GoldCoast crab spread that had incorrect information about the incubation period of the bacteria and symptoms of the disease.  Her organization is going to rewrite the story with the correct information and issue corrections on the air. This is the first time in the 16 months that we have been writing about Food Safety Bloopers that someone who made a food safety mistake has admitted it and made corrections. Kudos to Ms. Turnbull and her staff for making sure consumers get the correct information about food safety! Remember that Listeria monocytogenes has an incubation period of up to 70 days. Any time a food has been … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers: Listeria and Crab Spread

Action News in Atlanta published a story about the GoldCoast crab spread that has been recalled for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The information in that article is dangerously misleading. We've told you about the recall, which began in early February. The product was sold at Giant's, Martin's, Stop & Shop, Sam's Club, and Costco in the northeastern and southeastern United States. The doctor interviewed in the wsbtv.com story said, "for the normal person, you will have a day or two of diarrhea. You get sick pretty quickly with this. So that if you haven't had any of the risks things for two weeks, there's zero chance that you have it." That is completely wrong. Listeria monocytogenes can cause illness up to 70 days after exposure. The symptoms of listeriosis are … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers, Snack Mix Edition

Oh, Rachael Ray. You may remember our disapproval at her The Book of Burger, in which she calls for cooking ground beef hamburgers to rare or medium-rare. The USDA states that it is not safe to eat any ground meat unless it's cooked to well-done. Her burger recipes in her magazine still say to cook them to medium-rare. In the November issue of her magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, she gives recipes for snack mixes. One of those recipes calls for mixing cooked bacon with nuts and other goodies, drizzling with honey, then baking. Fine so far. But then there are no instructions to keep the mix refrigerated, or to refrigerate it after it's been at room temperature. Because any cooked meat must be refrigerated after two hours or pathogenic bacteria may grow. The only cooked bacon that … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers: Thanksgiving

Rachael Ray's magazine is again the focus of Food Safety Bloopers. Her food editor Terry Singh is in a video showing people how to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving. Incorrectly. While Ms. Ray's magazine and her books continue to promote cooking burgers to rare and medium rare, against USDA advice, this is another blooper. First of all, while Ms. Singh correctly says that frozen turkeys must be thawed for days, she does not specify that the thawing must take place in the refrigerator. Since the turkey is sitting on the counter, some consumers may make that mistake and thaw the turkey at room temperature. Ms. Singh prepares the bird by rinsing it in the kitchen sink. Food Poisoning Bulletin has warned consumers about this mistake before, since pathogenic bacteria can spread up to … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers Volume 1

Last week I told you about some egregious food safety mistakes made by professionals in the public eye. I read every food magazine published, watch as many food shows as I can, and browse dozens of food blogs. And every week, I see a food safety mistake. And I contact the magazine, network, or blog responsible for the mistake; I almost never hear back from them. The problem with these mistakes is not just that they show a lack of education about food safety. These errors promote dangerous practices that will increase the number of foodborne illnesses in this country and around the world. Food poisoning already costs the United States $78 billion each and every year. More than 120,000 Americans are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illness every year. So we're starting a new … [Read more...]

Even the Pros Do It: Notable Food Safety Mistakes

As an advocate for food safety, I'm always on the lookout for dangerous cooking practices. I ask for well-done burgers at restaurants, I ask if the steak I've ordered is blade- or mechanically-tenderized, and I always order (and cook) eggs over hard or scrambled to 165 degrees F. It's especially difficult to see prominent chefs and cookbook authors disregard food safety rules. There are three recent notable food safety mistakes made by experts in the past few days. Just before the Memorial Day weekend, The New York Times printed an article titled Mayonnaise: Oil, Egg, and a Drop of Magic. It should have been titled Mayonnaise: Oil, Egg, and a Drop of Salmonella. The article gave detailed instructions about how to prepare mayonnaise at home, which is of course delicious. But there was … [Read more...]

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