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0821 Eating Contaminated Food

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 821: Eating Contaminated Food.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 821. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our dialogue is on our website. You can also download a Learning Guide from that same website, eslpod.com. Go there today and become a member.

How are you doing today? Are you happy? Are you sad? Let's hope you're happy. If not, let's listen to this dialogue and maybe that will make you happy. It's about eating contaminated food, food that has something wrong with it, and there's nothing happier than the subject of contaminated food. Let’s get started!

[start of dialogue]

Rachel: This tastes funny.

Sergey: It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Rachel: It tastes like it’s tainted or something. Don’t you detect a funny metallic taste?

Sergey: No, it’s perfectly fine. Just eat it.

Rachel: I swear there’s something off about this food. I’m not eating adulterated food. There’s probably poison in here and we’re both going to die a terrible death.

Sergey: There is nothing poisonous or toxic in this food. I made it myself.

Rachel: Did you make sure that the milk wasn’t sour and that none of the ingredients were spoiled? I’ll probably die from botulism.

Sergey: There’s nothing spoiled, tainted, toxic, or poisonous in this food. Are you going to eat that or not?

Rachel: I think I’ll pass.

Sergey: Then hand it over. I’m hungry. I’ve never met such a hypochondriac before!

Rachel: I’m not a hypochondriac. I’m just a little paranoid...

[end of dialogue]

Our happy dialogue begins with Rachel saying, “This tastes funny.” You see? “Funny” – it’s already a happy dialogue. We have the word “funny.” Well, in some cases, it can mean something that makes you laugh. He’s very funny – ha, ha, ha, ha. But “funny” here, when we're talking about the ways something tastes in your mouth, means strange or unusual, usually in a bad way, meaning there's something wrong with it. It might make you sick. It might kill you. It's a weird phrase, but we use the word funny with the verb taste when we mean food has some unusual, usually bad taste. Sergey says, “It's fine. There's nothing wrong with it.” There's nothing wrong with the food, Sergey says.

Rachel, however, says, “It tastes like it's tainted or something.” It tastes like it has the taste in my mouth of something that is “tainted” (tainted). “Tainted” is another word for contaminated. It means something – some food or drink – contains something that is harmful or poisonous. It's not safe to eat or drink it. Rachel says, “Don’t you detect a funny metallic taste?” To “detect” (detect) means to be able to identify the presence or existence of something, to be able to tell, if you will, that it's there. Don’t you detect, can't you taste, a funny metallic taste? “Metallic” (metallic) comes from the word metal, so something that tastes like metal, which of course is not a very nice taste.

Sergey says, “No, it's perfectly fine.” “Perfectly” here means completely, no problem. “Just eat it,” he says to Rachel. Rachel says, “I swear,” meaning I believe, I really believe, “there's something off about this food.” When we say the food is “off” (off), we mean it's not quite right. We can use this expression, “there's something off about this television program” or “there's something off about the way I'm feeling.” It's not quite right. It's wrong, but it's difficult to say exactly what the problem is. If you say there's something off about this food, you mean it doesn’t taste good. You're not sure what the problem is, but you know there's something wrong with it.

Rachel says, “I'm not eating adulterated food.” “Adulterated” (adulterated) means the same as tainted or contaminated. Usually, however, adulterated means that something was actually added to the product, to the food or the drink. Someone actually put something in there that was contaminated. Sometimes it is done on purpose, and that’s the idea here, that someone put something in there that makes it not the food you think it is. Rachel says, “There's probably poison in here and we're both going to die a terrible death.” Didn’t I tell you this was going to be a happy dialogue? There's probably “poison” (poison) means there's probably a substance here that will kill us or hurt us if we eat it or drink it or perhaps even touch it. Poison is something, some substance, some chemical substance often, that kills you. “A terrible death” would be a horrible way to die, a very slow and painful death might be a terrible death. Well, Rachel is probably not serious, but you don’t really know. Maybe there is poison and they will die a terrible death.

Sergey says, “There is nothing poisonous or toxic in this food. “Toxic” (toxic) is the same as poisonous. It contains some substance that will kill you or that will hurt you. It has something that will injure you or perhaps kill you. Sergey insists that there's nothing wrong with the food. He says, “I made it myself.” I made this food.

Rachel said, “Did you make sure that the milk wasn’t sour and that none of the ingredients were spoiled?” “Sour” (sour) here means gone bad. When you have a food or a drink that is not eaten quickly enough, sometimes it will go sour. It will go bad. It will “spoil” (spoil). Well, if you put milk out in the sun, eventually the milk will sour. It will change so that you can't eat it, or drink it, rather, anymore. That’s what Rachel is asking Sergey, if he used milk that was not sour and that none of the ingredients were spoiled. “Ingredients” are the things you use to make a certain kind of food. So if you're making lasagna, an Italian food, you would have pasta and perhaps tomato sauce and vegetables and meat and cheese. These are ingredients for that particular dish, that particular kind of food. Rachel is asking Sergey if he made sure that none of the ingredients were spoiled. Remember “spoiled” means they’ve gone bad. We might say they're “rotten” (rotten). When you wait too long to eat a certain kind of food, it could spoil. It would no longer be able to be eaten. That’s the idea.

Rachel then says, “I'll probably die from botulism.” “Botulism” (botulism) is a kind of food poisoning that can often kill you. It's caused by certain bacteria being in the food, things that shouldn’t be there, especially if you put them in a certain kind of can, or if something happens and the food somehow gets this bacteria in it. It could kill you. It's a kind of food poisoning. Well, that’s what Rachel says here, “I'll probably die from botulism.”

Rachel – come on, Rachel! I mean, she’s sort of what we would call a drama queen. A “drama queen” is someone who is always very dramatic about something, who always exaggerates things: “Oh, it's so hot in here, I think I will die!” That would be kind of someone who’s a drama queen, someone who thinks that something bad is going to happen to her, or someone who – a woman – who exaggerates problems that she has, who always is making things worse than they actually are.

Sergey says, “There's nothing spoiled, tainted, toxic, or poisonous in this food. Are you going to eat that or not?” Rachel says, “I think I'll pass.” “To pass” means I'm not going to do it. To decide not to do something is to pass. Sergey says, “Then hand it over.” “Hand it over” is a somewhat rude way of saying “Give me that!” Give that thing to me. If you are being robbed by a thief, someone has a gun and comes up to you and wants your money, he may say, “Hand it over!” meaning give it to me right now. That’s what Sergey says. “Hand it over. I'm hungry. I've never met such a hypochondriac before!” A “hypochondriac” (hypochondriac) is a person who believes that he or she has many diseases even when they don’t have any diseases. This is the kind of person who reads about something in the newspaper and says, “Oh, I have that. I have that sickness. That’s me.” And they start to feel sick even when there's nothing wrong with them. That’s a hypochondriac.

Rachel says, “I'm not a hypochondriac. I'm just a little paranoid.” “Paranoid” (paranoid) is when you're very worried and anxious about something because you think someone else is trying to hurt you. You think someone else is trying to kill you or maybe just follow you around, someone who’s paranoid thinks everyone is trying to get him. And that’s what Rachel is, in addition to being a drama queen.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Rachel: This tastes funny.

Sergey: It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Rachel: It tastes like it’s tainted or something. Don’t you detect a funny metallic taste?

Sergey: No, it’s perfectly fine. Just eat it.

Rachel: I swear there’s something off about this food. I’m not eating adulterated food. There’s probably poison in here and we’re both going to die a terrible death.

Sergey: There is nothing poisonous or toxic in this food. I made it myself.

Rachel: Did you make sure that the milk wasn’t sour and that none of the ingredients were spoiled? I’ll probably die from botulism.

Sergey: There’s nothing spoiled, tainted, toxic, or poisonous in this food. Are you going to eat that or not?

Rachel: I think I’ll pass.

Sergey: Then hand it over. I’m hungry. I’ve never met such a hypochondriac before!

Rachel: I’m not a hypochondriac. I’m just a little paranoid...

[end of dialogue]

There's nothing off about our dialogues. That’s because they're written by the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan, copyright 2012 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
funny – strange or unusual, often in a bad way

* There’s something funny about the way he told us to be careful, almost as if he knew something bad would happen.

tainted – contaminated; spoiled or unsafe because a food or drink contains something harmful or poisonous

* The air was tainted by the fumes from the tire factory.

to detect – to be able to sense something; to identify the presence of something

* Bacteria are too small to detect just by using our eyes, so we have to use a microscope.

metallic – tasting like a piece of metal, with a sharp, bitter taste

* This medicine might leave a metallic taste in your mouth, but it should go away within a few hours.

off – wrong; incorrect; not quite right, but difficult to define or identify

* When Tariq came home, the door was unlocked and even though nothing had been stolen, he felt that something was off.

adulterated – made impure or contaminated by adding something else, often to make something less expensive

* The infant formula was adulterated, so people were actually giving their babies powdered formula mixed with chalk!

poison – a substance that can hurt or kill when eaten, drunken, or touched

* If the mouse traps aren’t working, it’s time to buy some poison.

a terrible death – a horrible way to die; a very slow and painful death

* Taisha suffered from the disease for months and died a terrible death.

toxic – poisonous; containing substances that can cause harm or death, especially chemical substances

* What does the factory do with all that toxic waste?

sour – spoiled; a food or drink that was not eaten early enough and has an unpleasant taste

* Pease finish the milk before it becomes sour.

ingredient – one of the foods or substances used to make another food or drink

* This recipe calls for just four ingredients: oatmeal, raisins, milk, and brown sugar.

spoiled – damaged through decay; no longer good to eat

* The food is spoiled because she forgot to put it in the refrigerator last night.

botulism – a type of food poisoning, often deadly, caused by bacteria in food, especially in damaged cans

* Food safety experts warn that people should never buy dented cans of food, because they might cause botulism.

to pass – to forego; to decide not to have or do something

* A: Are you going to go to the party tonight?

B: No, I’ll pass. I have to study.

to hand (something) over – to give something to another person

* If you aren’t going to finish that cake, hand it over!

hypochondriac – a person who believes he or she has many diseases, even though he or she is actually healthy

* Nancy complains about her health all the time. Is she really sick, or is she just a hypochondriac?

paranoid – very worried and anxious, believing that other people are trying to hurt oneself in some way

* Kyle is really paranoid. He thinks the FBI and the CIA are listening to his phone calls and reading his emails.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these words could be used to describe bread that should no longer be eaten?
a) Toxic.
b) Sour.
c) Spoiled.

2. Why doesn’t Rachel want to eat the food?
a) She thinks it doesn’t look nice.
b) She thinks it has a strange smell.
c) She thinks it might kill her.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
off

The word “off,” in this podcast, means wrong, incorrect, or not quite right, but difficult to define or identify: “The kids were playing with the radio dials, and now the sound is a little off.” The phrase “the off season” refers to a time of year when a business is not very busy: “Toy manufacturers work really hard in the months before Christmas, but the rest of the year is the off season.” The phrase “an off day” refers to a day when things are not going well and when a person is not behaving or performing as well as usual: “Normally, Norma-Jean is a sweet little girl, but today she’s having an off day.” Finally, the phrase “off-limits” describes something that is forbidden and not allowed: “Sugar is off-limits while you’re on this diet.”

sour

In this podcast, the word “sour” means spoiled, referring to a food or drink that was not eaten soon enough and has an unpleasant taste: “How can you eat your cereal with sour milk? It smells terrible!” The phrase “a sour face” refers to someone with an unpleasant, unfriendly facial expression: “Dmitriy is really nice and friendly, but the has such a sour face that people don’t want to talk to him.” Finally, the phrase “sour grapes” refers to someone who cannot have something, so pretends not to like or want it even though that isn’t true: “Helena was very critical of their new home, but it was really just a case of sour grapes. She’d love to buy a home like that if she had more money.”

Culture Note
Major Food Poisoning Incidents

There have been many “outbreaks” (occurrences of a disease in many people) of “food-borne illnesses” or “food poisoning” (sickness caused by food) in the United States in recent years. The “deadliest” (causing the most deaths) one “occurred” (happened) in 1985 in California, when approximately 50 people died from eating cheese contaminated with Listeria (a type of bacteria). The second-deadliest U.S. food poisoning incident occurred in 2011 throughout the United States when 29 people died from eating “cantaloupes” (an orange-colored melon) from Colorado, also contaminated with Listeria.

In 2010, more than 500 million eggs were “recalled” (taken back from stores so they cannot be sold) after almost 2,000 people became ill. The eggs were contaminated with Salmonella (another type of bacteria). Salmonella was also the “culprit” (the thing or person responsible for some problem or crime) in the food illnesses caused by peanut butter in 2009. The peanut butter was used as an ingredient in many products sold by many different manufacturers across the country. “Altogether” (in total), the foods containing the peanut butter made more than 22,000 people sick and killed nine people.

The E. coli bacteria have been the source of many other instances of food poisoning. E. coli is normally found in meats like “poultry” (chicken and turkey) and ground beef, but it has been found in other products, too. For example, in 2009 more than 65 people became ill after eating “raw” (not cooked) cookie “dough” (the mixture of ingredients used to make bread, cookies, or muffins) “presumably” (probably, but not proven) contaminated with E. coli.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c