Is your in-laws’ cooking a food safety failure

The occasional relative will welcome my help in the kitchen. That’s Amy’s aunt Jean (right) as we prepped dinner in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. We talked food safety and I complimented her on stringent thermometer use.

But many dinners with family or friends can be food safety nightmares. Cross-contamination is rampant, temperature control inadequate, and the source of ingredients suspect.

Someone called Grossed Out wrote the Toronto Sun to say her mother-in-law does not wash her hands.

“During our Christmas visit, she and I went grocery shopping. We returned and prepared the leftovers. She "re-mashed" the potatoes with her bare hands — without ever washing her hands. … Is there any way to bring this to her attention without hurting her feelings?”

Columnist Amy Dickinson responds,

“This is extremely unappetizing, not to mention unhealthy. If your mother-in-law handled uncooked chicken or shellfish and then plunged her unwashed hands directly into a bowl of mashed potatoes, for instance, this could cross-contaminate foods and spread foodborne illness.

“If you were pregnant and contracted Listeria from these unsanitary practices, it could be disastrous. …

“Try saying: ‘Mom, I’m very concerned about hand washing in the kitchen and I notice you’re pretty casual about it. Can you help me out here? I feel like I can’t eat comfortably unless the cook washes her hands often.’"

Other suggestions?