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Food Poisoning: Do You Know the Differences?

Apr 29, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Most of us are on the lookout for the possibility of contracting things like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli. We listen to all the reports about outbreaks in ice cream, bean sprouts, and peanut butter. We know to avoid undercooked burgers and unwashed veggies. And we know that food that has been properly cooked and processed should not cause us to experience the bathroom rigors of intestinal bacteria gone amok.

It’s also prudent to keep your kitchen clean…and that goes way beyond the counter and cutting board. Here are some surfaces you may not have considered, and the bacteria they may contain:

• Refrigerator meat compartment: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold
• Blender gasket: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold
• Can opener: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold
• Rubber spatula: E. coli, yeast, and mold
• Food storage container with rubber seal: Salmonella, yeast, and mold

When it comes to food safety, however, don’t forget about botulism, we may be tempted to lump that into the same undercooked/unwashed praying-to-the-porcelain-altar category; but we’d be wrong. And we could be dead wrong.

Botulism IS a bacteria and it DOES come from food. The rare toxin is most commonly found in home-canned foods. That happened just recently when a church pot luck dinner turned deadly for one 55-year-old woman and sickened 20 more. However, frequent bathroom visits aren’t the worry from botulism. The CDC says symptoms can include blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness—a result of muscle paralysis caused by the toxin. Without treatment, the paralysis can progress to affect the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and torso.

The source of the church supper poisoning has been narrowed down to home-canned potato salad. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big potato salad fan…and the thought of “home-canned” potato salad actually gives me the heebie jeebies. Lesson to be learned: know what you are eating and where it came from.

--Sarah Hagerty
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