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Old School Food Safety May Lead to Illnesses: A Personal Expirience

Posted in Food Safety on October 2, 2018

Ever gotten food poisoning at a family gathering?  I have.  Growing up it was tradition that we spent the holidays with grandparents basking in the joys of family coming in from out of town, catching up and just enjoying time together. Of course these holidays were also filled with traditional southern style cooking and lots of foods being brought in by various relatives. The concerning thing here is: old school food safety practices lead to illnesses. And lots of them.

Old School Food Safety is Concerning

I learned from a very young age that improper food handling in the kitchen can be not only dangerous, but can ruin a very good time. Sharing this story is honestly a little embarrassing ,but also eye opening for how quickly things can go wrong in the kitchen and the worries that we have when preparing foods for a crowd.  This can happen to anyone.

My Grandmother was very old school when it came to food safety. She thought that leaving things out on the counter or preparing certain dishes days in advance was a time-saving idea that wouldn’t cause any harm. She also wasn’t the best at keeping up with dishes, using clean towels or other things.  It was honestly a disaster waiting to happen with every family dinner.

The First Time It Happened

I was about 12 years old when the first incident happened. It was a Christmas Eve meal, and I am not sure what the culprit was or if it was everything combined. But I was sickened to the point of not being able to even take a bath to clean myself up and wound up throwing up in the bathtub while showering. Not one of my finer moments obviously. This immediately caused me to question the practices that were being used in cooking foods when we all started to drop like flies and became very ill for Christmas morning. It was definitely a holiday we will not ever forget.

Change Is Hard

Addressing someone who is very set in their ways is a hard thing to do. It obviously isn’t an easy task, so we just let it go and knew exactly why we were sick and the food events that led to it. In other family get togethers numerous other relatives reported being sick while my parents whisked us away to McDonald’s and we always said from then on that we were not hungry when meal time came.  This method worked for quite a few years until we just started to say that we would all bring the food when in came another issue…. Unclean dishes. Things became so bad that we were using paper plates and plastic utensils and just throwing things away when we were finished.

Fast forward to me being an adult who was more than happy to host holiday meals here in our home. We were no longer willing to accept the risks of becoming sick and I love having people come to our home and enjoy spending time together. Some of my best recent memories are from having our home filled with love and laughter especially around the holidays.

We came to learn in recent time that my grandmother, although definitely set in her ways suffered from Lewy Body Dementia; the same dementia that was linked to famous actor Robin Williams.  This explained a lot of the strange ways that she developed over the years and even the cooking practices that we saw the older I became.

What I Have Learned from MakeFoodSafe:

Over the past few weeks especially I have learned more and more about the safe ways of handling a variety of foods, things about animals and how they can in fact give us germs that we don’t want any parts of and even things about water.

While it is nice to know that for the most part we have been doing things properly we have learned how to better certain aspects of food preparations in our own home, facts about the safe handling of leftovers and even how to pack a proper school lunch.

Through the research that I have been able to complete for articles that I have worked on personally and those read by other contributing writers I have learned a lifetime of knowledge when it comes to the world of food safety. This is even after working in the food industry for several years as a young adult. I now know that even then there was a lot left to learn and things have changed especially in the last several years when it comes to food safety and proper procedures for handling things safely.

What I Have Learned About Food Poisoning

I have even learned that maybe I shouldn’t be bringing my phone or tablet into the kitchen to fix recipes for my family and I now find myself writing things down on pieces of paper and if they get even the least bit messy I throw them away and make sure that the recipe is saved to an online tool such as Pinterest for easy access at a later time.

I have also learned more about how food recalls are tracked, how they are not any more common than days gone by and that we are just more aware of our surroundings because of better news coverage and social media getting news to us faster than ever before.

It’s Never Too Late To Learn

One fact remains the same, we are never too old to learn new habits and techniques for properly handling foods, making sure our water is safe to drink and even how to take care of our beloved pets.

If you are looking to learn more about food safety be sure to check out your local health departments for classes as well as keep an eye here at for lots of information and online resources. The best way to stay on top of things is to read lots of current events stories involving foods and food related products and realize that the more you know on this topic the safer your family and friends will be in the end.

One of my favorite quotes is the following: “The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning, you go to school.” ―T. D. Jakes

By: Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)