Food poisoning from tofu? - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 01-25-2004, 04:18 AM
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Has anyone ever gotten this? My girlfriend recently came down with what appeared to be a nasty case of food poisoning, apparently from a bad batch of tofu. I believe it was Nasoya brand, one that comes in a plastic container filled with water. We got it from Safeway, which is why I suspect it may be the culprit. Since they keep the tofu in an open but refrigerated section with the vegetables, I don't believe it was treated as a perishable food, and may have been left out too long, allowing bacteria to grow.

After doing some research, I found out that a bacteria known as Versinia enterocolitica is known to cause symptoms similar to what she experienced. However, this bacteria is highly sensitive to heat (122 F should kill it), and the tofu was cut into squares and boiled for several minutes. One would imagine that this would kill off such a sensitive bacteria, but as it is, it's the main suspect.
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#2 Old 01-25-2004, 09:23 AM
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No one else ate the tofu? It could have been a virus or any number of other things. I'm sure its possible that you could get sick from improperly stored tofu, but when tofu goes off, I can't imagine being able to even prepare it for eating it smells so dreadful.
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#3 Old 01-25-2004, 11:38 AM
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The Tofu I buy is in the open but refridgorated section with the veggies, I never got sick from it though... maybe just a bad batch? What else did she eat that day?
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#4 Old 01-25-2004, 12:58 PM
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I buy Nasoya tofu from the open refrigerated section of the supermarket with the vegetables and have never found a problem with it. Could it have been something else that you cooked the tofu with or maybe just a nasty virus?
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#5 Old 01-25-2004, 06:42 PM
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The tofu was boiled with some Nissan top ramen, certainly nothing that I would imagine could cause food poisoning. And we had pretty much eaten the same thing all day long, but I ate much less of the tofu. Another possible culprit was Einstein's Bros' Vegetarian White Bean Chili, but we had that early in the day, and symptoms started to crop up at night, after we had the tofu.

To be safe, in the future we're going to get our tofu from stores that are more familiar with it like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or Wild Oats.
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#6 Old 01-25-2004, 07:47 PM
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Well, first of all, Yersinia generally won't cause symptoms until a few days after exposure. It's pretty unlikely that the tofu was in fact the cause of your food poisoning, since symptoms of any bacterial illness would rarely show up that quickly. Unfortunately, this is more and more commonly the case with food-born illness. (I say unfortunately because the increased incubation time makes contamination more difficult to track. Even if a lot of people are affected, the cases are rarely reported unless they are severe enough to demand treatment.)

However, even if the tofu was responsible, it doesn't mean the bacteria survived the cooking. If you handled the raw tofu or got the water from it on your hands, the counter, any utensil, you could easily have transferred the bacteria back to your food after it was cooked.

I don't think something like this would necessarily be cause to change your source anyway, although I certainly support ditching Safeway for one of the better stores you mentioned. Food contamination is increasingly the rule rather than the exception in the U.S., which is why raw processed foods (which can be contaminated within as well as on the surface) should always be handled with caution. It's sad to have to think of our food as something dangerous, but it's becoming a necessity.

John Robbin's The Food Revolution and Marion Nestle's Safe Food both have a lot of excellent documentation about this issue.
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#7 Old 01-26-2004, 12:40 PM
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Did the tofu smell funny? Spoiled tofu will have a very distinct and very bad smell. It should usually be pretty obvious before you get it into a pan, but I once cooked some tofu into a dish without first noticing that it was starting to turn (it's milder at first). I felt sick after that for a day or so.
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#8 Old 01-26-2004, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Squirl View Post

Did the tofu smell funny?

She didn't notice any difference, but something did indeed smell off to me. Not bad, just off. Anything really funky about it would likely have been covered up by the soup flavor though.
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#9 Old 01-26-2004, 08:23 PM
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It may have been turning, then. Whenever I cook tofu (after that experience), I usually smell it before cooking and sometimes nibble a tiny bit of it while it's still plain and raw. For lack of a better word, it should have that "clean" smell to it. That time I felt icky afterwards was the last time I've encountered even slightly bad tofu so I don't think it's a big thing to worry about, but it happens. I did once open a container of tofu that was way over the expiration date and it smelled so bad I couldn't even touch tofu for weeks. But anyway, if the tofu wasn't properly refrigerated, it would definitely go bad sooner.
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