Wednesday, 13 February 2008


Food Safety lectures on Wednesdays continue to cover the many and varied ways that we can get really ill from eating and drinking. Over the past few weeks we have been introduced to bacteria; today it was viruses. There was more talk of vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. There are very few symptoms to remember when it comes to food- and water-borne infection.

The coursework for this module requires us to design a public information leaflet about one of the following: the perils of barbeques, binge drinking, food in pregnancy, tap water, 'use by' and 'sell by' dates, food safety in the home, or Norovirus. The lecturer was American, and proudly introduced the town of Norwalk, Ohio as the source of what is now known as norovirus, the winter vomiting disease. I feel a closeness to this condition, a feeling of affinity, nay, affection. Yes, I think that norovirus and I will get along nicely. I'm planning to use a background design that makes it look like the leaflet is speckled with vomit.

Looking ahead, I see that over the remaining weeks of the semester we will encounter mycotoxins, phycotoxins, BSE and prion diseases, parasites, allergens, pesticides and antibiotics in the food chain. I can't wait to find out how many more ways there are for our food and water to make us ill.


aims said...

I'm babysitting my brother's Himalayan cats at the moment - and can they puke!! Projectile puking as well as just the regular gacking....

Yesterday I cleaned up puke 5 much fun..when is his holiday over????

Stew said...

What's the point of a "use by" date on pots of youghurt?

One of life's mysteries.

Obviously food doesn't go frot the second it is past its used by date. Which is why people who need to eat out of dumsters. Then the stores take to contaminating the food with bleach to stop people eating out of the dumsters in case they are legally responsible for anyone getting ill from eating the outdated food in the dumster.

The boundaries between the law, as seen in the use by date and reality (when the food really is off) makes things complicated.
Unfortunatley the dumster foragers don't have access to labs to test stuff.

Lola said...

aims: this only confirms my view that you are a saint, a view supported by the number of awards you are attracting to your site! Congratulations!

Stew: Have you never eaten yogurt that's gone off?

The way I see it, it's about risk. I'm perfectly happy to eat food in my fridge or cupboard that's well past it's 'use by' date, but I definitely wouldn't be happy to think that my local food outlet was doing the same.

The law has to ensure that food on sale contains safe levels of pathogens (it will rarely contain no pathogens) because mistakes can kill people. The butcher at the source of a recent E. coli O157 outbreak ended up in jail.

I don't agree with contaminating dumpsters with bleach, though. Many shops here offer their nearly out-of-date food to charities who feed poor or homeless people.