Food PoisoningIn one of Western culture’s best-loved fairy tales, a heroine, characterized by the eerie fairness of her skin, becomes deathly ill by biting into an apple that has been given to her by a stepmother embittered by her own advancing age.  Whether by some effect of the poison coating the crimson fruit or because Snow White didn’t chew 26 times, the young woman falls into such a profound stupor that she is placed in a coffin before her hero revives her with a kiss.

As implausible as the Snow White story is, food poisoning is quite a real phenomenon—it’s just more likely to originate from bacteria, parasites, allergens, or molds than from whatever black magic the Wicked Queen doctored Snow White’s apple with.  In fact, Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 6 Americans become sick from a foodborne illness each year.

While most forms of foodborne illness pass quickly (if violently), others can be fatal.  To avoid food poisoning in all its forms, avoid the following behaviors:
Improper hand-washing

Improper hand-washing

Those with experience in the food service industry probably have memories of eye-rolling during training videos on proper hand-washing, hair-netting, and adhering to codes of personal cleanliness that seemed pointless at the time.  However, poor hand-washing technique (or total neglect) is believed to be a cause of many food poisoning cases.


Cross-contamination is what happens when you chop the salad lettuce on the same tray you used to catch the blood when you slaughtered the hamburger meat.  Food that needs to be cooked should not come into contact with food that is to be eaten raw.  Don’t overwork your cutting board—segregate your food preparation dishes.


Failure to store foods at the proper temperature

There’s a reason why we have refrigerators and stoves:  between 40°-140° Fahrenheit is a culinary “danger zone” at which germs flourish.  Hence, these germs need to be cooked out or kept out by refrigeration; and leftover food should be put away promptly.

Unwashed produce

Humans aren’t the only things that like food.  In all likelihood, there were other things that like food living on your food before you even brought it home.  Because many of these tenants are not intended for ingestion, they should be removed before this food is to be consumed.  To prevent contact with sickness-inducing germs, wash produce well, using fruit and vegetable soaps or sprays where appropriate.

You can take precautions with your own cooking; but cannot guarantee that others will do the same with theirs.  If you have acquired a serious foodborne illness because of another’s neglect to practice safe food-handling, you have a right to compensation to cover your treatment and associated expenses.  Before making your claim, however, it always helps so strategize (no matter how waterproof your case); and this is why Christensen & Hymas offer free literature to personal injury victims in Utah.  To request your 7 Biggest Mistakes booklet from Christensen & Hymas, call 1-800-LAW-BOOK or make your request online at

Image courtesy of Loren Javier