Q: Every year when I go to my mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, I get sick. I think she is poisoning me.

A: I don’t know if she is doing it on purpose, but you can get food poisoning from holiday dinners, sometimes, if the cook is not careful enough. Usually, several dishes are being prepared. If they are allowed to sit out too long, cold foods aren’t kept cool and warm foods aren’t kept warm. Bacteria begin to grow when foods are not kept at the proper temperature, growing the fastest at temperatures between 40° and 140°. Do not eat meats, dressings, or other foods that have been kept at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Defrost frozen meats in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. Bacteria can also be spread by cross contamination. Keep your hands and kitchen clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water. Wash the cutting board between each use. Make sure the meat is done before serving. Don’t eat anything with raw eggs in it. Most of the time, symptoms start in the first day or two. Usually, the infection doesn’t last long. If it lasts more than a couple of days, you probably should be seen.

Dr. Rick Casey

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