Why Did You Eat That…

I’m crazy, maybe even obsessed with food safety.  My son really likes Panda express, but if I don’t see steam coming from those tables…we are out of there!  I teach/preach food safety to my kids, so when my daughter tells me she has a stomach ache- I rewind the evening…

I was making stuffed pasta shells for dinner. I loaded the shells full of spinach and ricotta cheese. I seem to always mix too much cheese and make too many noodles, so these are sitting on the counter. My daughter comes in as asks what is in the bowl. I said, “its cheese for the pasta, but don’t eat it because it has raw eggs in it.”  I proceeded to tell her that you can get Salmonella from eating raw eggs. This is then followed by an explanation of what Salmonella is and how it can make you sick.

So, there I am cleaning the dishes after dinner and she comes to me and says she has a stomach ache. I asked if she knew why, she says, “well that cheese that was on the counter…I ate some on those extra noodles.” What?! I already said it had raw eggs and had sat on the counter.  Poor baby says, “I ate it when you left the kitchen and then asked what it was.” 😦


  • Bacteria is everywhere and most is harmless
  • Some bacteria are beneficial while others cause illness
  • Bacteria can be controlled by controlling the food’s temperature during every stage of storage and preparation
Okay, so even if you follow those four steps there is still a risk that you may come in contact with some of the bacteria that causes illness.  Every year we hear about some contamination…Peanut butter with Salmonella, Cantaloupes with Listeria, Meat with e-Coli, etc.  Here  is what these bacteria are and their symptoms…

Listeria Monocytogenes Bacteria

  • Listeria most common in hot dogs and lunch meats.
  • Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator.
  • Symptoms include fever and chills, headache, upset stomach and vomiting
  • Incubation is 12 hrs to several days

Escherichia Coli Bacteria

  • Ecoli – most common in raw and undercooked beef.
  • Symptoms: diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting.
  • Incubation  12-72 hours, duration up to 8 days

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria

  • Most common in high protein items such as cooked meats, eggs, milk. Also in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Causes severe diarrhea and nausea and is evident within ½ hr to 6 hr of after ingestion. Lasts 24-48 hrs


  • Salmonella occurs in raw poultry, eggs, beef, and sometimes on unwashed fruit and vegetables.
  • Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and headache.
  • Incubation 6-48 hours, lasts 1-2 days

Battling Bacteria

It’s easy to tell if a food is spoiled…you can smell and see it
Bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella have no smell, color or taste.
  • The only way to help prevent contamination is by cooking foods to the proper temperature
  • Temperatures of 165°F kill most bacteria within a few seconds

Remember that Listeria can grow at cold temperatures and in the refrigerator

Temperature Danger Zone

Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F (4°C and 60°C), a range known as the Food Temperature Danger Zone
  • The key to keeping food out of this “Danger Zone” is to make sure cold food stays cold and hot food stays hot
Here’s how:
  • Store food in the refrigerator (40 °F/4°C or below) or freezer (0 °F/-18°C or below)
  • Maintain hot cooked food at 140 °F/60°C or above
  • When reheating cooked food, reheat to 165 °F/ 74°C

Cutting Boards

Cross-contamination, or transferring harmful bacteria from one food product to another by way of contaminated tools, equipment or hands, is a common cause of food-related illness
One of the best ways to avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen is to have a set of color-coded cutting boards or have several separate boards for meats and vegetables.

Wash Your Hands

One of the easiest things you can do 😀
  • Wash during food preparation, as often as necessary to remove soil and contamination and to prevent cross-contamination when changing tasks
  • When switching between working with raw food and ready-to-eat food
As you can see there are lots of bacteria and the incubation time can vary from an hour to several days.  This means you can eat something on Saturday and exhibit the symptoms 2-3 days later.

Luckily, for my daughter she didn’t get sick. She had a nervous tummy after realizing she ate something she probably should not have.  She said next time she will ask before she eats. 😀



Do you avoid certain restaurants or ever had food poisoning ?


11 thoughts on “Why Did You Eat That…

  1. Awww. This made me sad. Bless her heart. I hope she felt better shortly. When I was a cook in the military, I was paranoid about giving the troops this from undercooked chicken! I’d cook it to death! It came out so dry, poor guys. They were so hungry, they ate it anyway.

    • Thanks, she did. She will definitely be more careful from now on. I would be the same. I’m always extra careful cooking chicken and pork. My paranoia has caused me to overcook and even toss meals :/

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