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Aug 17, 2013 05:45 PM

Restaurant food poisoning questions

Last night I went out to dinner w/ a small group of colleagues for a farewell party. We've all been to this restaurant a few times and never had any problems whatsoever. Last night I decided to order a short rib dish I'd never had (at this restaurant) but have had it over the years at other restaurants so I know what it should taste like.

My first bite the food taste gamey. It had a very off flavor. In general I don't like lamb or meats that have noted gamey flavors so I tend to avoid ordering them. Even the smell is off-putting to me.

These were beef short ribs.

After the first bite I debated whether to say something, send the dish back, ask someone else to try it, etc. I wound up not saying anything given the occasion and wound up slowing eating a few bites and shifting the food around. I've also never sent a dish back before so that also was part of my reluctance.

Oddly, the waitress didn't ask if I wanted the leftovers which I would have refused anyway, but she just took the dish away without saying anything.

Went to bed fine, but woke up early this morning and just started puking right away. Pretty much puked non-stop until late this afternoon.

Should I contact the restaurant? Contact the health department? Call my doc? Forget about it? I texted the person I am closest to and she didn't get sick,

I'm 100% positive it was this dish and I 100% regret not sending it back.

Also, I only vomited. Nothing from the other direction. And I'm scared to eat anything, even though I am kind of hungry now. I've only had a few sips of water since I last got sick and was able to keep it down.

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  1. You MIGHT be right, but unless you saved a sample and get it tested, you'll never prove it to anyone. Most people who think they can pinpoint the cause of what they claim is food poisoning have been incubating a gastrointestinal virus and the timing is coincidence.

    I would contact the restaurant but not in a confrontational manner. Just say you suspect the entree and wanted to alert them to check their refrigeration and inventory. Since you didn't say anything at the time, you have no leg to stand on. You probably won't even get a thank you, much less an apology, since that could be used as evidence that the restaurant knows it has a food safety issue. You can inform the health department. If other people have had similar experiences, it will help establish a pattern for them to investigate.

    5 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      This is very important. The vast majority of "stomach bugs" (technical term....) are the result of incubating for 24-48 hours, be they food poisoning or a viral infection. Not to mention that if you were in the process of coming down with a virus - that may have altered your sense of smell/taste/appetite.

      Before anything gets reported to the health department, you'd have to go to the doctor and be tested for what you have. At that point, the lab/doctor may even be required to report certain kinds of infections to the health department so they can monitor trends/spikes/etc.

      If you're still concerned, then I would first recommend calling the doctor/speaking to a nurse. They'd be in the best place to at least assess if you should see a doctor or not. A few months ago I went through the worst food poisoning I hope to ever experience - and it took 4-5 weeks to sort itself out. Unfortunately medically speaking there's not really that much to do. I was put on some mega-antibiotics, and even though I had a bacterial infection, it took two rounds and the doctors themselves admit they don't know if it just worked itself out or if the medicine did anything. The most important thing they tracked was my fever and if I could keep down any fluids to determine if I needed to be hospitalized.

      In terms of when/what to eat - the pattern I've always taken was first water, second gatorade, third toast/crackers.

      1. re: cresyd

        Sorry but you are wrong about that timeline. I have had food poisoning a few times and have had it incubate in less than 3 hours.

        1. re: PotatoHouse

          My timeline was meant to refer to the majority of "stomach bugs" (bacteria, viruses, etc), not every incident. There are stomach bugs that take 8 hours to incubate. There are stomach bugs that can take up to 5 days.

          Bacillus cereus takes can incubate in as little as 1 hour. It is also responsible for only 2-5% cases of food poisoning. My point wasn't that it wasn't possible, but that it's not likely.

          1. re: PotatoHouse

            That has been my observation, and also that of my wife, who is a clinical nurse, though not specializing in just GI issues.


      2. <Went to bed fine, but woke up early this morning and just started puking right away>

        Sometime I would feel bad all night long and then puke.

        < And I'm scared to eat anything, even though I am kind of hungry now.>

        During my most severe food poisoning incident, I was sick for 4-5 days. No matter what I eat, it would irritate me and made me throw up. So I went hungry for 3 days -- scary. What I found out on the third day is to that I was fine with drinking juice or any liquid with nutrients. The liquid did not irritate me.

        If you happen to able to eat any food (hopefully not), then you can try soup or juice. As purely as liquid as possible and see if that help.

        1. I would call the restaurant and let a manager know.

          I am not a doctor (I just play one on the Internet ;) but maybe you should try to eat a little live culture yogurt for some probiotic action...get the good bacteria to fight the bad. Sorry you feel so bad :(

          1. You can try calling the restaurant but I think they'll be quite noncommittal on the subject. The thing is it may have a bug you picked up days earlier somewhere else. You really don't know for sure.

            I know this is hindsight but next time please don't eat something that you're pretty sure is "off". This subject came up on this board before and I couldn't believe the replies from people who didn't want to make waves.

            But might I suggest ginger ale and dry toast in the meantime. Settles stomachs in adults and little ones alike.

            2 Replies
            1. re: miss_belle

              Ginger is great for upset stomachs but it must be REAL ginger. Reed's and Stewart's are two brands of ginger ale that work - they are really strong and not particularly pleasant to swallow so you wind up with little sips, which is a good thing. If you can chug it down - Canada Dry, Schweppes, for example - it has little or no real ginger. You can also eat fresh or candied ginger for the same effect as strong ginger ale.

              1. re: greygarious

                Yes, and GInger Aid tea is also great...

            2. Sorry that this happened to you.
              I don't have any advice to add regarding following up with the restaurant or health dept.
              In terms of taking care of yourself, though, don't push yourself to eat anything in the next day or 2, but do try to stay hydrated. Sucking on crushed ice and slowly sipping **clear** liquids such as water or apple juice or even flat Coke (not diet -- you need calories right now) is best. Add some simple carbs like Melba toast or steamed rice only when you really feel up to it.

              16 Replies
              1. re: almond tree

                Sports drinks that include electrolytes are another good liquid item.

                1. re: cresyd

                  These can be high in sugar though which sometimes is bad on empty stomaches.. i would go with pedlyte

                  1. re: girloftheworld

                    pedialyte is the best when you're losing lots of fluids/lytes.

                    1. re: chartreauxx

                      if you can past the fact that it tastes worse than what you just lost.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Uff, that is the big thing with pedialyte - the taste is a bit rough. I've always been told by doctors that because you've lost so much, that the straight sugar from Gatorade is actually a good thing.

                        1. re: cresyd

                          my gp and my pediatrician both recommend sports drinks -- one even told me flat out that she wouldn't recommend pushing something on a kid that she wouldn't drink herself (referring to pedialyte)

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Yeah - I have a fairly weak GI system (unfortunately) so at this point in my life, I also think I have a really strong positive psychosomatic response to Gatorade specifically.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              a good natural alternative to sports drinks and pedialyte is coconut water, if you can get past the taste of that as well.

                              1. re: trolley

                                ah, but that's good stuff -- doubly if you can get your hands on a green coconut -- green coconut jelly is magical stuff.

                                I love coconut water...but happily (and knock on wood...)I haven't had a good case of the yuck since before coconut water became readily available.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  i enjoy the stuff out of the young coconut as opposed to the stuff in the tetra paks. my little guy loves the coconut water out of the young coconut and has helped him tremendously during the stomach bug. he hates pedialyte and i don't blame him. tastes terrible!

                        2. re: chartreauxx

                          the grape flavor isn't too bad. it's a medicinal fluid, not a milkshake.

                          1. re: chartreauxx

                            but when you're dealing with a sick, cranky toddler, "not too bad" is roughly equivalent to "unholy creation of the devil himself, sure to cause an immediate, painful death".

                            Like the doctor, I have a hard time pushing something on a kid that *I* think is disgusting.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              i wasn't saying anything regarding using pedialyte for kids; as far as i know, i was suggesting it to the OP, who is presumably (like me) an adult capable of swallowing less-than-delicious stuff if it'll help me get well faster/more safely.

                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                okay....but when you're sick, tired, and cranky, the last thing you want to do is choke down some evil-tasting brew that is capable of making a healthy, well adult gag, especially when the doctor told you that a sports drink was okay...

                                I don't care for sports drinks, but they are at least potable.

                    2. re: almond tree

                      Ginger ale is also good: ginger has some anti-nausea properties on its own. It's not as easy to find, though, especially if you're on the road.

                      1. re: tardigrade

                        True. However, sometime it is good to throw up especially the first day, and potentially the second day.