HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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 (http://www.foodinspect.saccounty.net/... ) 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.

            2. I would go back. As many have said, sometimes you haven't gotten food poisoning at all or you got it from another source. I have a bad reaction to some types of foods that is pretty severe and immediate, but have only had true food poisoning one time. Another time I thought I had food poisoning, I concluded the more likely possibility was that I got norovirus from a friend who was traveling with me.

              Whatever you decide, I'd just stay away from higher risk foods- e.g. raw/undercooked seafood and try something safe for the first visit.

              1. Absolutely. There are too many variables here.

                1. Thanks for the feedback and information. Of course I can't be absolutely 100% sure the food from the restaurant made me sick but I did back track (at the time) with a nurse friend of mine and we ruled out a lot of other possibilities because my ex ate the same dinner as I the night before and the same lunch the day I got sick. My ex didn't get sick. I think I may give the place another try maybe replace the bad memory with a good one.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                    It's not often what you had for lunch today or dinner last night that made you sick. There are lots of sources but this one has a graph, a lot of foodborne illnesses take a couple of days.
                    Unless you know for sure what caused it, you're just speculating and probably unfairly slagging the last place you ate.

                    1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                      So your ex ate the same meal that made you sick but it didn't make him sick? If I understand this correctly, how then can you assume you had food poisoning?

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        <ex ate the same dinner as I *the night before*>

                        But presumably a different dinner the night of.

                    2. There are too many other good places to go, if I KNEW that I got food poisoning there, I would not give them a second chance.

                      15 years ago, I got food poisoniong at a major restaurant on Cenjtral Avenue in Yonkers, NY. It was confirmed and required a three day stay in the hospital. The restaurant's insurance company made a large cash settlement, so I may not reveal the name.
                      But, I would NEVER give them a second chance.

                      I have been invited to eat there with friends, and always sya, I'm in the mood for xxxx anything they don't serve.

                      Not only, don't I trust them, I wouldn't give them another cent of my money.

                      1. i have never gotten food poisoning from a restaurant but have twice given it to myself, lol. (raw cheese that i *knew* was too old and then unwashed cilantro. i know, i know...)

                        that being said i have worked in restaurants many years, and the last 17 in fine dining. we do get calls from time to time from people claiming food poisoning. it never is. ya know what it is? fat overload. they treat themselves to indulgences they normally don't have like creamy sauces and custardy desserts. all the proteins, vegetables and starches are cooked in staggering amounts of butter and/or oil. their digestive systems rebel. there is not really a polite way to explain this though, lol. we encourage the person to see a doctor. we call them the next day to follow up. like i said, never once food poisoning.

                        however, if i was bagelman, i wouldn't return. there are also places that constantly fail health inspections. i don't eat there either.

                        1. Would I go back?

                          Generally speaking, no I wouldnt. I also wouldnt go back to places where I had a less than good experience for any other reason - whether it be poor food, poor service or just, generally poor value for money. There are lots of local places that I havnt tried and I'd prefer to go to one of these than risk a repeat poor performance.

                          1. A few years ago, I went to a Chinese restaurant in our area to place a take out order for the family. I had a taste for the fish sandwich, which I ordered. I got really sick after eating it, and I mean, I thought I was dying. I knew it was food poisoning and I'd gotten it from the fish sandwich. Now, it wasn't the first time I'd ordered from this restaurant and previous to this time, never gotten sick before. However, it was the first (and last) time I'd gotten the fish and because it was the only meal I'd eaten that day (dinner), I attributed it to that restaurant.

                            It took a while before I went back there but have not eaten any seafood from there and had not been sick from anything else they'd served me.

                            1. As others have mentioned, it is nearly impossible to 100% accurately blame a particular place for your ill feelings. That being said, if you mentally blame a place, it doesn't really matter ... there's a place near where I work which got the 'mental association' when I got sick once, and I've only managed to drag myself in there once or twice in the 4 years since - and they have a new name & ownership to boot. I get kind of queasy whenever I think about that place.

                              What's funny is that the mods once removed a post of mine where I told this story (but gave the name of the place) even though I explicitly said that I knew it almost certainly was not them. Geesh.