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Sudden, Awful Intestinal Distress--Is it the Flu or a Foodborne Illness--or Both?

flu"Was it a bug or something I ate?" victims often wonder as they run repeatedly to the bathroom. But this is not really an either/or matter. There's a lot of overlapping of these categories. What we commonly call "stomach flu" is usually caused by the norovirus. This winter season, there's a particularly nasty strain of it spreading rapidly throughout the country.  It's easily contracted, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) from an infected person, food or water, or even contaminated objects.  It can come from a friend's sneeze (or kiss), salad, or, often, a public washroom doorknob.  But this highly contagious condition is different from the intestinal discomfort caused by eating food that has become contaminated due to mishandling.  The latter is not contagious, not transferable from person to person.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Cooks--or Wants to

Do your relatives and friends come to your house to eat because they hate cooking?  Then this is the wrong gift list for you.  But for those who cook because they must or because they actually enjoy puttering with food, you may find the perfect gift among these ideas, a combination of recommendations from the Shelf Life Advice board scientists and from publications that I (your SLA editor) looked at recently. 

Tips for Winter Holiday Meals

New Years Eve party toastFrom eggnog to fruitcake and all that’s served in between, our Advisory Board members have provided tips to help make your holiday feast(s) safe and tasty. So let’s get started on our journey through the traditional holiday dinner.

 

BEVERAGES

Food process engineer Dr. Tim Bowser provides these tips on handling the season’s traditional alcoholic beverages.

 

Making and storing eggnog:

Of course, you can buy non-alcoholic eggnog in almost every grocery store this time of year and then add the alcohol. But if you want to make your own, you’ll find some of my favorite recipes are available at the following links.

How long can I keep refrigerated leftovers?

Leftover Food scientist Susan Brewer offers the following advice: the amount of time which leftovers are safe and/or of good quality depends on the leftovers.

 

Mixed dishes which contain (cooked) animal products (such as meat, milk, and eggs) tend to have the shortest shelf life both for quality and safety reasons. They may have originally had pathogenic bacteria associated with them. If cooking didn’t kill every single one, the bacteria can grow (slowly), making the product unsafe. Three days is the standard length of time recommended for these products.

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