March 13, 2015

36 Hours In Food Poisoning Hell

Food Safety ConceptIt was 11p when I woke up out of a dead cold sleep (remember, I have an infant at home – any and all sleep is precious these days even if I go to bed before 10p some days) with that undeniable knowledge that I was going to be sick.  And by sick I mean that anything I’d eaten in the last 12 hours made their way back up my throat in a series of episodes that left me ultimately, at 4a, dry heaving and laying on the cold bathroom tile floor until my husband carried me back to bed.  I then spent the next 13 hours in bed – only moving to crawl (I didn’t trust that I wouldn’t pass out if I tried to walk) back to the bathroom and retch up what little water I’d actually been able to get into my mouth.

I don’t mean to be overly graphic or overly dramatic but it was, without a doubt, the sickest I’ve been in years and I came very close to calling an ambulance (except that the idea of trying to crawl back to my bedroom to get my phone was just too draining so I stayed on the bathroom floor for a few hours).  But why, you ask, share my illness here?

Because it was food poisoning.

For all we talk about good business practices and solid financials, eye-catching packaging and great tasting-tasting innovative products, we have to remember that first and foremost what we’re creating are things that other people are going to ingest and if we don’t remember to focus – every.single.day – on making sure that every single product we turn out of our kitchens is safe then we are putting the very people who trust us enough to try and buy our products at very real risk.

What struck me most was how quickly food poisoning knocked my legs out from underneath me.  I’m usually healthy as a horse – rarely even get a cold in winter – and I’m a pretty darn, fit distance runner.  So the fact that I couldn’t even walk the 15 steps from my bedroom to my bathroom…that’s scary.  What’s even more scary is what if I’d be immunocrompised?  What if I’d been a child or elderly person who’s immune system was not as strong?

According to the CDC, 1 in 6 Americans get food poisoning each year and more than 125,000 of them end up needing to be hospitalized for it so it’s no joke and not something to be taken lightly.

I’m back on my feet now, frantically trying to catch up on the two days where I was too sick to hold my baby girl or walk my dog – let alone even try to read and comprehend emails.  And I’m grateful that I’m as healthy as I am that I can recover so quickly.  I’ll never be 100% sure what was it that was my undoing but it was a powerful reminder that the very first thing we all need to focus on in our businesses is producing a food product that is consistently safe for the public to eat.   Sounds simple, right?  So let’s do it.

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5 comments on “36 Hours In Food Poisoning Hell

  • Kristen from Wicked Goodies on said:

    Jennifer,
    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a while and this is my first comment. Bummer to hear that you got such a debilitating case of food poisoning. I hope your newborn escaped it unscathed.

    I will never forget learning in culinary school sanitation class how “the stomach flu” is in fact a matter of “fecal-oral contact.” Now when my friends tell me they’ve got a case of it, I say, “Oh dear, I’m so sorry to hear that you ate someone’s sh*t by accident!” Just my way of readjusting the vernacular to reflect the truth of what “the stomach flu” actually is, because I agree that we all need to face that truth a bit more head on. Food safety is incredibly important, as you aptly point out, because it can be a matter of life or death for infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals.

    I just published an article that echoes your call for better food safety in the way of more proper training for all who call themselves “chef.” http://www.wickedgoodies.net/definition-of-chef/

    Thanks for keeping up such an excellent and informative blog! I always enjoy reading your posts. Cheers!

    • Jennifer on said:

      Oh no – thanks for that visual (though it’s very true!). And appreciate you sharing that article – really a great reminder for all of us about what our first and foremost role is as chefs and entrepreneurs.

  • Thembi on said:

    First, congrats on your baby. And second, I completely know how you feel and have always had a hard time getting someone who doesn’t know how it feels to understand.

    Thanks for sharing!