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Oct 30, 2009 06:54 PM

Would you go back to a restaurant that gave you food poisoning?

It's been about 3 years since I had dinner at an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood. Last time I ate there I got food poisoning and haven't been back. Friends who have eaten there lately love the food and never had my same experience but they never had the clams or any fish there. I am still a little leery. FYI it is a somewhat upscale chain restaurant.

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  1. Unless you reported your illness to the health department and they cultured your stool and whatever you ate at the restaurant, you have no way of knowing what made you ill. It could be norovirus, or a food-borne bacterium. It can take anywhere from3 to 36 hours for food poisoning to strike, and many people are quick to blame the last restaurant at which they ate. Many more cases of food poisoning originate in the home.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      I agree with you pikawicca, though it's natural to blame the last restaurant at which you ate, you are absolutely right--barring some sort of culture, you'll never know what truly made you sick. Psychologically, it can be tough to return to what you *perceive* as the scene of the crime. I had a "bad association" with a local restaurant we liked a lot. I finally got over it and started going back recently and readily admit it was my own issue that I was hesitant to return for so long...and that I could have been sick from anything else I ate before that.

      Tracy L...for what it's worth, as ridiculous as it may seem, it took me about 3 years to get past it, too. Maybe that's the official window. Now you can go try again without fear. :) Buon Appetito!

    2. Pikawicca got it right. When food comes back up, you tend to assume associate your illness with that food. But it's not necessarily so. The illness may have been caused by something else entirely.

      Even assuming that you did get food poisoning from the restaurant, the next question is why. If the kitchen is unsanitary, that's a problem. If the workers casually disregard health rules, I wouldn't go back. But if they got in a batch of spinach that was contaminated with e. coli? Not a lot they can do about that.

      If the place is in Sacramento County, check out its health department inspection reports ( ) and decide whether you think there's reason to be concerned. If not, I wouldn't hesitate to go back.

      1. I'd say it's a crap shoot going back. Will you decrease your luck if you order the same food again or go on the anniversary of the day you got sick?
        I ate at many different restaurants of the same ilk in the New Haven area. Let's say it was the bubblegumarias... They sometimes don't have great reputations for clean kitchens, let alone the front side. I ate at six different ones over a number of years with no problems, though some were a little down-in-the-heels and the food was not always that great. On the third meal at one place (which I thought was one of the better ones), I ended up sick; rather quickly. Will I go back to Bubblegum #2? No, there are too many other, better choices.

        I can understand the cautions that it might not be the restaurant; that something else might have been in play. However, for me, I had only had coffee before having lunch. It was also food that always agrees with me. I was in distress within fifteen minutes of eating. Almost as soon as I walked out the door. I reported it to the health department and later called back to find out that there were foods not held at the proper temperatures.

        I think you can have some sense for potential dangers by whether a place is run professionally, how clean it is and whether the food is decent. If everything looks good and all the customers are alive and eating when you go in, then your odds may be good. Conversely, I've had some of my best meals in real holes.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Scargod

          Initially I started typing this thinking that so few food-borne illnesses of a bacterial nature onset as rapidly as fifteen minutes after eating. It's usually some sort of chemical/metal poisoning (dented cans are a big culprit) that onsets rapidly and with profound symptoms.

          Thankfully, I re-read scargod's post and see that the restaurant was not keeping temps. Occasionally, when a sauce/soup is kept "tepid" or improperly re-heated, it indeed becomes a biological cocktail with microorganisms rapidly reproducing. Perhap's Scargod's stomach sensed the onslaught and was warning him.

          On-topic: there are two restaurants I'd not return to because I've felt queasy later/the next day after eating there. I just can't bring myself to give them a second chance. And one of them was a favorite -- until the "oyster problem." And it's really my fault because I ate not one but *two* of them.

          1. re: shaogo

            Scar god Probably had Staph intoxication.

        2. I'm kinda in the same boat. We ate at a pub last winter and the next day I spent a good portion of it in the seated position. In fact, a good portion of the next week. It was awful.
          It seems more likely that I had some sort of stomach flu or something but the thought of going back there doesn't appeal to me. Of course, the food was nothing special so that may have something to do with it too.

          If I loved the place, I'd probably go back.


          1. I think my brain is actually controlled by my tastebuds. I've been known to go right back and order the same dish that I got sick off of last time, figuring "hey, sht happens, what are the odds of it happening twice in a row?" So far that's worked out about 90% of the time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Popkin

              I think you are saying that it has happened twice in a row? (10%)

              1. re: Scargod

                There are two places that I've had something akin to food poisoning twice in a row (not severe), so I don't actually go there anymore. I figure either something is up with their sanitary practices, or some ingredient really doesn't agree with me.