Dinner Party Fail: Causing A Foodborne Illness Outbreak

February 24, 2010

I’ve just recovered from a bout of anyone buy isotretinoin online Cryptosporidiosis. No, even worse, I’ve just healed from a terrible dose of underhand Clostridium Perfringens Gastroenteritis. Wait, I can do better than that. My vision has just repaired after a very serious case of Botulism where I also experienced difficulty speaking and swallowing.

At least, these are the diseases I imagine having to recuperate from as I listen to my Safety and Sanitation instructor carry on about foodborne illness.

Come to find out, there are scores of ways to keel over dead at the dining room table. So, here are a few reminders that may help you avoid sending your dinner party guests home with little more than a full stomach.

Food safety rules to live by:

  1. Don’t let your food sit in temperatures between 41 and 135 degrees for more than 4 hours. This temperature range is called the Temperature Danger Zone and is responsible for the production of many different kinds of deadly bacteria.
  2. Never freeze meat that has already been thawed. This means you have to be careful at the meat counter. Butchers don’t always do a great job of labeling the products they have already thawed out. If they’re not labeled, ask.
  3. Don’t set meat in the sink to defrost. When meat climbs over 41 degrees, it’s vulnerable to collecting dangerous bacteria. Instead, thaw out your protein in the refrigerator.
  4. Don’t keep oil and garlic mixtures stored in the kitchen. They’re an absolute breeding zone for pathogens that like to grow in low oxygen environments.

  5. Cool cooked rice properly. Rice contains a naturally occurring bacteria called Bacillus cereus and if it sits at room temperature for longer than 4 hours, it can be deadly. Reheating rice before serving will not inactivate the emetic toxin or kill all the bacterial cells.

These rules may seem simple but millions of people in the United States are sickened every year by foodborne illness. Thousands die. While the list of warnings and kitchen regulations could go on and on, everyone should be sure to obey the ones above.

Have fun out there, but be careful!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen February 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Question–what if you run cold water over a protein while you thaw it in the sink. Is that still dangerous?

Also, what do you mean by oil and garlic mixtures? Do you mean…stored vegetables in oil? Maybe I’m just kitchen-clueless and these are obvious!


Courtney February 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm

That should be ok, since you are bringing down the temperature gradually. As for the mixtures, lots of home cooks make their own flavored oil by combining oil and garlic in a dispenser and storing it on the counter for weeks at a time. The bacteria already present in the garlic thrive in the anaerobic (no oxygen) environment that you have just created.

You should still make the mixture…just use it quick!

Bill Nye out.


Patricia February 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Oh. Eww.

#3 is really hard. Sometimes I lay stuff out in the fridge, and it still isn’t thawed two days later. Then, I end up eating fast food…something probably just as likely to make me sick!

#5 is probably why so many faux-Asian joints are risky treats.

And, can someone explain #2 to those “once-a-month cooking” people? I know a certain local major grocery chain that seems to always pre-freeze, then thaw its meats.


Thanks for sharing!


David February 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I don’t understand point 2, but yeah food poisoning is scary. I used to kind of blow it off until I read about botulism. You dont just spend a day in the bathroom, you DIE.


Courtney February 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Patricia and David,

Once the meat has thawed, and it’s in the range of 41-135 degrees, it has the potential to be a medium for bacteria to grow. Re-freezing does not guarantee the bacteria that are now growing on your food will be killed.

Pre-freezing and thawing is fine…just cook the meat once it is thawed.


Tina C. March 4, 2010 at 11:16 pm

For me, #1 and #4 are especially resonating. I eat a TON of rice and had no idea about the naturally-occurring bacteria it harbors. That’s amazingly scary.

Re: #1, I was always told that if I cook something -let’s say a pot of stew, that I shouldn’t leave it out longer than 2 hours before putting the leftovers back in the fridge.

But then I heard something somewhat conflicting that said you shouldn’t put any pot of food into the fridge that’s still hot/warm. I wasn’t sure if that was because of some threat of introducing bacteria into the fridge, or if it just was to avoid making the fridge work harder to keep the temperature around 38-40 degrees.


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