Will it all kill me? March 16, 2007 7:52 PM   Subscribe


Before AskMe, I had never even considered the many ways I could poison myself with my food. And after years of reading it, I have become much more paranoid. Yet either way, food has never made me sick. So tell me, paranoid answeres, what gives? Why are you convinced all your food will kill you?
posted by dame at 7:52 PM on March 16, 2007


That question is just a waste of everybody's time. If he's worried enough to post on ask he should just not eat the damn sandwich.
posted by 6550 at 7:55 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


WTF?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:58 PM on March 16, 2007


I gotta say, I absolutely, deeply adore CanIEatThisFilter. (AskMeCanIEatThis?) It completely rules. If there was just a website, a fairly well-attended one, called "Can I Eat This?", I would read it every day.
posted by furiousthought at 7:58 PM on March 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


Why are you convinced all your food will kill you?

I think you're mistaking "will" and "kill" for "may" and "harm", respectively, dame.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 PM on March 16, 2007


Yes, yes, it is hyperbolic. But I find the whole thing weird and interesting and it would be inappropriate to ask people there. So I am asking them here.
posted by dame at 8:01 PM on March 16, 2007


I stopped answering these questions at the point at which I realized my answer was always "of course, why would you think otherwise?" Then again I have an iron stomach, and am not afraid of a good puke on the rare occasions that something disagrees with it. This may put me outside the norm of people who both ask and answer such questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Could it be another example of how explicitly conscientious behavior garners respect at the 'Filter? A sort of conspicuous "doing the right thing" seems to be the fashion at the 'Filter.
posted by cgc373 at 8:06 PM on March 16, 2007


the 'Filter the 'Filter the 'Filter
posted by cgc373 at 8:08 PM on March 16, 2007


Well dame, I think you know that a questioner asking if a certain food will be alright sets up for a thread of negativity if not paranoia - they focus on a potential problem and folks are of course apt to respond along those lines. Advice on food quality has been around since time in memoriam so everyone has an opinion. I think you are actually looking for validation that your own reaction to the thread is reasonable. "Wow, how paranoic, amirite guys?" Yes and no.
posted by peacay at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2007


I once ate a bunch of pizza with rotten meat on it. Well, I don't know that it was rotten. I ate many slices then went downstairs to discover my entire family freaking out saying the meat was rancid. They all got sick but nothing ever happened to me.
posted by puke & cry at 8:19 PM on March 16, 2007


mmmmmm rancid meat.
posted by nola at 8:21 PM on March 16, 2007


Oh, I still wouldn't eat that tuna-salad sandwich.
posted by puke & cry at 8:23 PM on March 16, 2007


hey, zombies eat RAW BRAINS and THEY NEVER GET SICK

of course, they don't fill the skulls full of mayo first
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


AskMetafilter: will *not* cause bloody diarrhea.
posted by clevershark at 8:25 PM on March 16, 2007


I once ate a tainted fish sausage at a highway rest stop in Japan. About six hours later I was incapacitated, and could not anything (or keep anything down) for three days. I dragged myself to a doctor, who gave me a pill that immediately calmed my stomach. I was ravenously hungry, but still wary of "Japanese food," so I went out for pizza. I ordered the garden special: in the photo (I couldn't read Japanese) indicated the pizza was topped with green peppers and plenty of mozza cheese. So I nearly threw up when the actual pizza came out: limp, warm lettuce topped with about two inches of sizzling hot, salty mayonnaise.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:27 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Shit, KokuRyu, I'm about to throw up from the description. Yeesh.
posted by cgc373 at 8:30 PM on March 16, 2007


Clearly the problem with this scenario is the mayonnaise. Might as well be pizza topped with gizz.
posted by puke & cry at 8:32 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are certain foods about which I have no idea of their lifespan, or how to tell if they've gone bad. Hummus, for example. I've read that it's good for anywhere from two to five days. How discernible is the change in taste when it has gone bad? Is it subtle enough that I might not realize, or have I been throwing it out after two days for no reason?

I wonder about these things because I have a pretty sensitive stomach. If I had a stronger constitution, I'd probably be a bit more likely to take a chance.

And KokuRyu: eww.
posted by amro at 8:32 PM on March 16, 2007


Here's the real problem, which we don't like to think about too much - nothing is completely safe. It doesn't matter if you eat everything within five minutes of it being made, or routinely eat yesterday's pizza off the plates in the living room, you have no way of knowing where the particular thing you are putting in your mouth at any particular time is on the scale of "perfectly healthy" to "deadly lethal". To give ourselves some sense of order and control, we invent and pass on "rules" - don't eat anything with mayonnaise that's been out for more than an hour, don't eat that shrimp you idiot, it's been out all night, what are you thinking - but they only define broad perameters at best. No such rule can ever define a clear, unmistakable dividing line between "okay" and "not okay" because there are none. The next bite of food you put into your mouth may be the one that does you in, or maybe it won't.

So, eat what you enjoy, enjoy what you eat, don't obsess about food, but don't be an idiot either.
posted by yhbc at 8:35 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


puke & cry writes "Clearly the problem with this scenario is the mayonnaise. Might as well be pizza topped with gizz."

That would be the "bukkake special" pizza. It's a special order.
posted by clevershark at 8:39 PM on March 16, 2007


Spend eight days in the hospital with food poisoning, like I did once, and I promise you will look askance at your vittles.
posted by konolia at 8:43 PM on March 16, 2007


For the love of pete, puke and cry, it's spelled jizz and it's short for jizzum. Don't you read Kurt Vonnegut?

I agree with furiousthought, CanIEatThisFilter amuses me. Some people are clearly nervous nelly wimps, others are insanely foolhardy, and watching them duke it out over whether someone should eat that lone hotdog that fell behind the crisper drawer back in September is good fun.

(Less than a day old tuna sandwich? Come on, that's a no brainer. But you should pop it in the freezer for ten minutes before eating because room-temp tuna salad is grody).
posted by nanojath at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2007


OK, who just registered "canieatthis.com" six minutes before I looked it up... speak up!
posted by chundo at 8:47 PM on March 16, 2007


Clevershark writes: That would be the "bukkake special" pizza.

Actually, bukkake is a pretty popular style of food in Japan. Blue Lotus (who has the most lovely food blog in all of Japan)
:

The bukkake you're referring to is more of a "adult video act" than a "sex act"- I don't imagine anyone actually does that off-camera. It's also a rather recent phenomenon and has a very very niche audience. I doubt that the average Japanese person is even aware of this meaning of bukkake.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:49 PM on March 16, 2007


Ah - somebody came to the door, and I hit "post" by mistake.

Blue Lotus on bukkake
posted by KokuRyu at 8:53 PM on March 16, 2007


Why are you convinced all your food will kill you?

Because it does. Frequently.

An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne disease occur each year in the United States. The great majority of these cases are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two. Some cases are more serious, and CDC estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases each year.

Five thousand per year puts it near the middle range on these charts.
posted by frogan at 8:56 PM on March 16, 2007


of course, they don't fill the skulls full of mayo first


That would be the "bukkake special" pizza. It's a special order


limp, warm lettuce topped with about two inches of sizzling hot, salty mayonnaise.


I just threw up all over my pants.
posted by nola at 9:09 PM on March 16, 2007


I don't think 5000 deaths a year is in the middle range of the chart. 1 in 5000 odds is in the middle. 5000 deaths is closer to 1 in 75,000, which is like the odds of being hit by lightning. If I'm reading the thing correctly.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:16 PM on March 16, 2007


frogan writes "Why are you convinced all your food will kill you?

"Because it does. Frequently."


Yeah, but AskMe "will it kill me?" questions are of the "I left X out on the counter/in the refrigerator for X hours--will it kill me?" variety.

The CDC says: "The most commonly recognized foodborne infections are those caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7, and by a group of viruses called calicivirus, also known as the Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses."

Campylobacter=raw chicken. Salmonella=variety of sources, but mostly raw or undercooked eggs, and shit. E. Coli=cow shit. Calicivirus=food prep workers who have it.

So the statistics you cite are not really meaningful for the kinds of questions people are asking.
posted by chinston at 9:17 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


They all got sick but nothing ever happened to me.

I'm surprised that somebody who goes by "puke & cry" doesn't have an extreme food poisoning story in his past.
posted by vytae at 9:23 PM on March 16, 2007


Yeah, I know. I have this though.
posted by puke & cry at 9:28 PM on March 16, 2007


hummus: You're talking about crushed peas mixed with lemon juice, garlic, sesame, and olive oil, right? Hummus lasts a week in the refrigerator, and I've even eaten it after it's been left out for a day.

For those of you who are not familiar with some of the more popular annals of AskMe "Can I Eat It?" History, I MUST point you to this hilarious thread.
posted by onalark at 9:29 PM on March 16, 2007


I once ate a bunch of pizza with rotten meat on it.

People do this all the time: it's called pepperoni.
posted by owhydididoit at 9:32 PM on March 16, 2007


I've been so tempted to ask variations of this question many times because I'm poor enough to eat bad food. My unscientific answer is this: vegetables decompose and and are still digestible, but meat putrifies and is not good for you. Please demystify.
posted by bobobox at 9:32 PM on March 16, 2007


p&c: ewwwww!
posted by vytae at 9:34 PM on March 16, 2007


INAD: But obviously the poster has serious food phobias. I was in exactly that situation 10 years go. TALK TO YOUR THERAPIST. If they refuse to help you go see another one. Medication is not a cure, but in addition to talk therapy it can help. I first started by reheating pizza instead of throwing it out. It took me 2 years to reaching the point of eating mayo and tuna sandwiches that had been out on the counter for longer than the time it took me to prepare them (to be honest it is still a problem). You are not alone, take care.
posted by geoff. at 9:38 PM on March 16, 2007


Why are you convinced all your food will kill you?

I've had food poisoning a number of times -- twice in the last three years, in fact. It is unfun.

It may not kill me, but food can make you very very sick.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:39 PM on March 16, 2007


So the statistics you cite are not really meaningful for the kinds of questions people are asking.

Right. I'm so sorry to have confused you with the facts from those idiots at the CDC. Your combination of the Chewbacca defense and half-assery is so much more compelling.

Now, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey.
posted by frogan at 9:42 PM on March 16, 2007


Wait. "Chewbacca defense"?
posted by chinston at 9:43 PM on March 16, 2007


Ah. Googling. Ok.
posted by chinston at 9:45 PM on March 16, 2007


Uh... did you read his comment, frogan? He wasn't arguing with the statistics from the CDC. He was pointing out that you misapplied them because the specific food-born contaminations they referred to were not largely of the "random cooked & prepared food left out too long" variety.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 PM on March 16, 2007


onalark, that thread is great. [SPOILER: _sirmissalot_'s wife survives.]
posted by cgc373 at 9:49 PM on March 16, 2007


Let me simplify.

OP: ZOMG! I left food out on the counter for 12 hours! Will it kill me if I eat it?

frogan: The CDC says 5,000 people DIE every year from foodborne illnesses. You should be very scared. That could kill you. 5,000 is a lot!

Me: Uh, but my half-assed research suggests that the most common cause of foodborne illnesses are not related to leaving food out unattended on counters, but to shit and raw chicken and chicken shit. So I don't understand why the 5,000 deaths would be especially relevant, since we don't know how many are due to "leaving food out on counters" rather than " pooping and not washing hands after."

frogan: What? Irrelevant! CDC. . .numbers. . .Chewbacca. . .

Me: Q.E.D.
posted by chinston at 9:50 PM on March 16, 2007


Question: Why do you think bad food will kill you?

My Answer: Because it does.

Your Comment: Your stats are meaningless. Ergo, it's safe. Go ahead and eat the warm tuna sandwich.

My Comment: Bitch, please.
posted by frogan at 9:53 PM on March 16, 2007


Ofcourseofcourseofcourse simply leaving food out could cause bad things to grow and sickness to follow. I don't pretend to know anything about this, or how dangerous that is in general--I'm just saying you have to look at the CDC numbers in context.
posted by chinston at 9:55 PM on March 16, 2007


I gotta say, I absolutely, deeply adore CanIEatThisFilter. (AskMeCanIEatThis?)

EatMe. Although I now want WillItKillMeOrNot.com, with voting on photos.
posted by mendel at 9:58 PM on March 16, 2007


I'm waiting for the day AskMe is taken down and replaced with a sign saying:

"No, don't eat it, see a Doctor, call your Lawyer, then dump anyone you're in a relationship with. Then, get some therapy, take up volunteering, meet new people, get a cat, and finish your studies!"
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:59 PM on March 16, 2007 [19 favorites]


furiousthought: I gotta say, I absolutely, deeply adore CanIEatThisFilter.

Then you may enjoy Steve, Don't Eat It! (wherein our protagonist brews his own prison hooch and uses Beggin Strips to make a Beggin Lettuce and Tomato sandwich.)

Like dame and Jessamyn, I am surprised at the anti-tunafishites. But I'm the most incautious person around old foods and raw meat I've ever known. I've never had food poisoning or anything like that either. My upcoming comeuppance will be horrible.
posted by painquale at 9:59 PM on March 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


'Upcoming comeuppance' is a magnificent phrase. I'll be stealing that one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:02 PM on March 16, 2007


No. I'm not saying that eating the warm tuna sandwich is safe. But the risk of getting a foodborne illness from doing that is only minimally related to the fact that 5,000 Americans die every year from foodborne illness, or the other scary statistics about how many Americans get sick. I don't see why this is controversial.

Anyway, I love these AskMe questions too, because they allow for satisfying near-immediate follow-ups in a way that other posts don't. For that matter, has anyone gotten sick after posting, and then reported back? You'd think they would have followed up for sure: "Godammit, you told me to eat the warm tuna sandwich! I've been talking to ralph on the big white telephone for the last three days! The technicolor yawn!"
posted by chinston at 10:04 PM on March 16, 2007


frogan: Question: Why do you think bad food will kill you?

Thing is, that wasn't the question. Your adding the word "bad" in there begs the question. Obviously "bad" food is bad for you. But it's the badness that's in question in the first place. The original question was, "Why are you convinced all your food will kill you?" All your food. Not even remotely the same thing. And 5000 deaths a year is not particularly frequent, as I pointed out above. According to the chart you linked above, 5000 deaths a year would be odds somewhere between death by lightning strike and legal execution. And most of those food deaths are from Salmonella and E. Coli, which are contamination poisoners, not spoilage issues.

Now the chances that it will make you sick, on the other hand... that's another story.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:21 PM on March 16, 2007


Pretty much everyone's got wireless these days right? That means that CanIEatThisFilter can evolve into OhDearGodImStillShittingHowDoIMakeItStopFilter.

That'll be the day.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:41 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've been thinking about this, and I strongly believe that CanIEatThisFilter askers should be required to post follow-ups.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:45 PM on March 16, 2007


onalark, I looked at the thread you linked to. Then I looked into that product, wondering wtf about canned food that needs to be refrigerated. On the first page of search results for googling Phillips+backfin+crab+meat were a couple like this with dire botulism warnings. In Canada yet (but canned in Indonesia.)
posted by Listener at 11:19 PM on March 16, 2007


I heard botulism has a refreshing tang to it.
posted by puke & cry at 11:44 PM on March 16, 2007


I heard botulism has a refreshing tang to it.

Astronaut—banjo—vomit stutter. uh.
posted by carsonb at 12:58 AM on March 17, 2007


I should stay out of those threads too. My mom cooks dinner then just leaves it out on the counter all night. Then by lunchtime the next day we might finish off what was left. Thats how it always was. It gets me a bit riled up that people are just throwing away food based on what I perceive as undue paranoia.

My mom has a really good sense of how long things really last because - get this - she grew up without a refrigerator! Most stuff can actually stay out for days. She knows however to handle raw meat very carefully. She seems aware that when people get sick from food poisoning its because of feces or raw meat not because a sandwich was left on the counter for an extra hour. Not one of us, her kids, has ever had a case of food poisoning.
posted by vacapinta at 1:14 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's Russian roulette. Will the tuna sandwich give him food poisoning? Hard to say. Perhaps the bacterial colony that's grown in the sandwich throughout the day (for ten and a half hours, at an unknown temperature) isn't quite big enough to make him shit and vomit day and night; maybe he'll be fine. But maybe he'll get sick. Maybe he'll get really sick, and require hospitalisation. All I can tell you is: I don't want to be the person who said, "Sure, buddy, eat the sandwich", without knowing what the fuck I was getting him into.
posted by hot soup girl at 2:40 AM on March 17, 2007


So I don't get any props for drinking a loogie? That's hardcore.
posted by puke & cry at 2:59 AM on March 17, 2007


Well, the reason people ask, of course, is because it's ever-so helpful and important to have a large list of people saying "yes", "no", and "maybe" in more-or-less equal measure. (Which is all that ever happens and all that ever can happen in such a thread, which is why I'd delete them with a message of "Yes? No? Maybe? No-one knows.")
posted by Wolfdog at 3:48 AM on March 17, 2007


I like these threads too. It's like looking over someone's shoulder while they read a Choose Your Own Adventure Story.
posted by gomichild at 4:07 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dearly love good pizza that's been left on the counter all night eaten at room temperature the next day.

Does something to the cheese.
posted by Cyrano at 5:26 AM on March 17, 2007


Campylobacter=raw chicken. Salmonella=variety of sources, but mostly raw or undercooked eggs, and shit. E. Coli=cow shit. Calicivirus=food prep workers who have it.

So the statistics you cite are not really meaningful for the kinds of questions people are asking.


do you know what mayonnaise is?
posted by cosmic osmo at 5:38 AM on March 17, 2007


do you know what mayonnaise is?

it's that song the french like to sing
posted by pyramid termite at 5:58 AM on March 17, 2007


Commercial mayo is not a salmonella risk.
posted by smackfu at 7:12 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


those threads are not that funny, I still remember fondly the thread where that guy wanted to know how he could win an eating contest, and somebody suggested that it was important that he wore a diaper in order to keep eating no matter what.

now that was funny. tuna sandwiches, not so much.


Spend eight days in the hospital with food poisoning, like I did once

it was a message from the Lord.
posted by matteo at 7:53 AM on March 17, 2007


In the "American Dietetic Association Guide to Better Digestion" they have a long chapter on food handling safety, including some directions which to me appear to border upon the obsessive compulsive. The one thing that stands out from memory is they say you have to heat lunch meat to over 200 degrees before you eat it.

I have never seen anybody do this. According to ADA, when the guy at Subway (with those germ proof plastic gloves) takes a cold cut out of the refrigerator and sticks it on your bun it is like a Russian Roulette experience for the customer.
posted by bukvich at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2007


To me it seems similar to law/health/maintenance questions, where the majority of answers are "hire a professional". I enjoy AskMe for the part that isn't like that. I guess it is just as jessamyn said, it depends on the kind of person you are.

Anyway, what ever happened to andrew cooke?
posted by Chuckles at 8:35 AM on March 17, 2007


Metafilter: is 1) alive, 2) feeling quite well, and 3) had leftover crab quiche for breakfast.
posted by Chuckles at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


The one thing that stands out from memory is they say you have to heat lunch meat to over 200 degrees before you eat it.

I have never seen anybody do this.


In college my friends enjoyed fried lunch meat. And I can tell you, that was way grosser than any invisible bacteria colony.
posted by dame at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2007


posted by furiousthought I gotta say, I absolutely, deeply adore CanIEatThisFilter. (AskMeCanIEatThis?) It completely rules. If there was just a website, a fairly well-attended one, called "Can I Eat This?", I would read it every day.

Me too! Although I'd propose naming it "Eat Metafilter". Then we could shorten it to "EatMe."
posted by fandango_matt at 10:56 AM on March 17, 2007


That Canadian gov't crabmeat warning is damn scary:

Consumption of food contaminated with the Clostridium botulinum toxin may cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, headache, double vision, dry throat, respiratory failure and paralysis. In severe cases of illness, people may die...

from a self inflicted gunshot wound, no doubt.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:26 AM on March 17, 2007


Although I'd propose naming it "Eat Metafilter". Then we could shorten it to "EatMe."

how about "WillThisPoisonMe"
posted by sleevener at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2007


Well, if the sandwich is safe and everyone tells the asker not to eat it, the only harm is a wasted sandwich.
If the sandwich is unsafe and everyone tells the asker to eat up, there's going to be a lot of unfortunately exhuberant emptying of the asker's stomach, or painful, hideous DEATH.
I would eat the sandwich myself if it was kind of cool at home and it seemed in good condition, but I wouldn't feed it to someone else (or tell some innocent soul on ask me to go ahead and eat it).
posted by textilephile at 11:55 AM on March 17, 2007


But isn't it a bit wasteful to be so blasé about throwing food out? I remember being a bit annoyed some time ago when I heard how much is generally thrown out. It wash a quite large percentage of produced food.
posted by Catfry at 12:09 PM on March 17, 2007


I had a Filipino roommate once back in college, and his mom came to visit from Manila. (They slept in the same bed, and she dressed really slutty around the apartment, but that's a whole different story.) She made some kind of classic Filipino meat dish that involved Adobo seasoning, large strips of beef (I think), and the key to flavor -- leaving it sitting, open, on the stove for 24 hours. When I came back from school the next day, I entered the kitchen to see an amazing nature show: hundreds of houseflies erupting from the brown meaty goo, stretching their new wings, and flying up to join their brethren doing laps in the air around the stove.

Two hours later, you guessed it: Mom and son were sitting down to a candle-lit dinner. They asked me to join them, but I politely declined.

(And then Steve Austin barged in, and peed all over us.)
posted by turducken at 12:27 PM on March 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


puke & cry: So I don't get any props for drinking a loogie? That's hardcore.

No props. Do it while knowing full well what it is, and while being able to see the chunks, then we'll talk props.
posted by CKmtl at 12:45 PM on March 17, 2007


How do I know when sour cream goes bad? Does it get unsour?
posted by found missing at 1:14 PM on March 17, 2007


Pizza with lettuce and mayo is really good. Or at least french bread pizza (or garlic bread with pizza sauce and cheese) from the Hot Truck on West Campus at Cornell University with "grease and garden" (mayo and lettuce) is really good.

Or maybe I was always too drunk to notice it was nasty. I'd go back to Ithaca and eat it today, except I've heard that Hot Truck is under new ownership so it's probably not good any more.
posted by misskaz at 3:02 PM on March 17, 2007


/full disclosure/

I offered to eat the sandwich, but my comment was deleted. Not helpful enough?

/full disclosure/
posted by grateful at 3:54 PM on March 17, 2007


Not helpful enough?

you didn't leave a p o box no for him to send it to
posted by pyramid termite at 5:19 PM on March 17, 2007


I lived with this girlfriend for about a year. During that time, we slowly came to realize that we were not meant to be together, as we approached our lives in very different ways. One of which was our respective thoughts on food safety; she was incredibly skittish about food poisoning, while I would eat just about anything, regardless of how long it had been left out, what it was composed of, or what piece of ground it had fallen on. My rationale was always that if one keeps on pushing one's stomach to the limit, one builds up a tolerance to all gastronomic dangers, and one will eventually be able to eat anything. She thought my reasoning was foolish and unscientific. This caused several squabbles.

So one day, we go out for Thai food, and split an entrée. On the way home, she starts feeling ill. I pull the car over, and she spends about twenty minutes vomiting onto the side of the road. We get back home, and she just keeps vomiting, again and again, all night. I, on the other hand, didn't even feel a twinge of illness.

Leaning over the toilet, she stared at me hatefully. "How come this isn't happening to you too?" she asked. I shrugged and lied that it was probably just dumb luck; maybe she got the one bad piece of shrimp in the dish, or something.

But what I was really thinking about was every piece of undercooked meat I'd ever eaten, every morsel I'd picked up off the floor, every glob of tuna salad I'd consumed after it had been sitting on the counter all night. And every time she called me foolish for doing so.

I rubbed her back gently and murmured soothing words and played the role of the good boyfriend as she continued to dry-heave. But secretly, I was delighting in her misery.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:54 AM on March 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I's more likely she'd caught a virus, and it wasn't actually food poisoning at all.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2007


I don't think Shigella bacteria work like Iocaine powder, o King Mithridates.

In middle school I read that apple seeds contained cyanide, so I decided to start eating the cores of my apples in order to build up a resistance. My science teacher then told me that cyanide is one of those substances that stays pooled in your system. I am one apple seed away from a grisly death.
posted by painquale at 4:05 PM on March 18, 2007


Incomplete recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome following Campylobacter jejuni infection from eating spoiled food, dame.

You see one life ruined by this - wheelchair-bound plus loss of fine coordination in hands, permanent - and you sit back and think to yourself, What. The. Fuck. This is 2007 and we live in a technologized, industrialized society. The means of avoiding food poisoning is well available to every member of our society with the means to be posting to Ask MetaFilter. And not to take advantage of it?

Why on God's Earth would people choose to crap around with this kind of idiocy? Look people, if you don't care about Guillain-Barre syndrome, care about your doctors and nurses - because the reeking purulent effusion from your open bedsores smells frankly disgusting and I don't like it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:04 PM on March 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


So I don't understand why the 5,000 deaths would be especially relevant, since we don't know how many are due to "leaving food out on counters" rather than " pooping and not washing hands after."

Wow. I mean ... wow. Sigh.

So I don't understand why the 5,000 deaths would be especially relevant

Because many many people like to play fast and loose with foodborne illnesses and don't grok the consequences. Hence the frequency of CanIEatThisFilter (you know you have a problem when someone gives it a name). Hence the "hey dumbass, you can die from this" reaction. But if 5,000 isn't a big enough number for you, check out the 300,000+ hospitalizations.

But hey ... an illness here, a death there. Add 'em all up and pretty soon you're talking about real numbers.

since we don't know how many are due to "leaving food out on counters" rather than " pooping and not washing hands after."

You realize the two things aren't separate, right? That, by itself, leaving food on the counter isn't the issue, right? You realize that leaving food out on the counter makes it more likely that the "not washing of the hands" becomes a problem in the first place, right? Because nasty germs grow in number when given the opportunity, right? And leaving it out on the counter IS that opportunity, right?

I thought you understood this and were just being obtuse about stats. But no, you really don't know how this plays out, do you?

Why on God's Earth would people choose to crap around with this kind of idiocy?

Preach, brother!

The real callout here shouldn't be "it's just tuna, so why are some of you so paranoid?" The real callout here should be "why did so many of you apparently fall asleep in Bio 101?"
posted by frogan at 12:09 AM on March 19, 2007


I, for one, would like to hear more stories about turducken's Filipino roommate and his sluttishly-dressed mom.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:56 AM on March 19, 2007


Ikkyu, is it not true that Campylobacter is from chicken and is not a spoilage issue? (I don't know honestly, someone just said it upthread.) If so, then what the heck does it have to do with a tuna sandwich? And if tuna sandwiches are so dangerous, why are we still feeding them to grade schoolers?

My bafflement is not due to an ignorance that bad things may happen. Rather, it is that it is seriously unlikely and given that, maybe life is better lived not worrying about it. I mean, people are apparently throwing out hummus after two to five days! You know when I throw out hummus? When I can see the mold. Doesn't it seem possible that given your skewed sample of humanity, you might be a little overconcerned?
posted by dame at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2007


Also, frogan, do you ride in cars?
posted by dame at 10:16 AM on March 19, 2007


How does anyone have the willpower not to consume hummus within two days of purchasing/making it, anyway? What, are you all buying the 5-gallon tubs of hummus? (And if so, where can I find them? I've been looking all over for them!)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:41 AM on March 19, 2007


Dame, your question was, "Why are you so paranoid your food will kill you?" It was not "why are you so paranoid about this tuna sandwich."

But since you bring it up, that tuna sandwich was probably prepared on a surface used for food preparation. People careless enough to leave their tuna sandwich out all day might have prepared raw chicken on a surface used for food preparation too, and failed to wash it. Yesterday's chicken drops Campylobacter on the surface; today's tuna provides its growth medium.

More about Campylobacter, "the most commonly reported bacterial cause of foodborne infection in the United States.

But you know what? Factory chicken farming has increased the prevalence of Campylobacter, but Campylobacter was around before factory chicken farming. So were all the other pathogens. Mucor is commonly associated with diabetics, but I got a nice culture of Mucor - complete with square feet of nasty, clear, shiny mucous exudate in sheets - on a bunch of carrots I left out over a two week vacation once. These pathogens are everywhere. You cannot see them, dame, but if you chose to look with a microscope, you would find them everywhere.

Food-borne illness was until the last couple of centuries a major killer of humans on earth. Its toll cannot be overstated and cannot be dismissed as an example of observer bias. What stopped it in its tracks was scientific understanding of public and private food hygiene, and then the implementation of that understanding in practice.

When you eat food that may have spoiled, forgoing food that is known to be safe in favor of the possibly-spoiled food, you simply reject these advances, and in doing so inherit the morbidity and mortality profile of ignorant cavemen.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:22 PM on March 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


You know when I throw out hummus? When I can see the mold.

Another thing you would've learned in Bio 101 is that fungus grows through a medium in addition to emerging on the surface. This is why Brie and Stilton cheeses are so tasty -- the mold on the rind and injected into the curds grows into the cheese itself.

So, in the case of your hummus ... by the time you can see the mold ... it's already been there doing its thing for several days under the surface.
posted by frogan at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2007


Atom Eyes: You wouldn't believe the half of it. Kind of like "Class" (the one with Rob Lowe) meets "The Omen." When I write my memoirs, I'll include the story (and link to it here, of course).
posted by turducken at 1:57 PM on March 20, 2007


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