FAQs on Food-borne Illness and Mishandling of Food

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.

How Much Do You Know about Safe Handling of Food?

TestDo you really know about food safety and expiration dates?  Test your knowledge and learn something new as you check your answers.  Click on the link at the end of the quiz to see our explanations about each answer.

 

 1. What percentage of food-borne illness is caused by mishandling of foods at home?

 

a) 4%      b) 17%      c) 31%

I Left It Out Too Long! Can I Still Eat It?

cantaloupeFunny thing, but almost every question we get from our site members is a variation of the same question.  Optimists phrase it positively: “Can I still eat it?”  Pessimists ask, “Do I have to throw it out?”  In either case, it’s a query about food that has been kept too long in the “danger zone” (40°F-140°F), in other words, a perishable food that hasn’t been kept hot enough or cold enough to prevent bacterial growth. No one wants to discard food that cost a lot and/or took a long time to prepare.  So we did some research and asked two food scientists on the Shelf Life Advice Advisory Board to provide specific and general answers to “Is it really spoiled?” questions.

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