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When you suspect you have Food Poisoning (lengthly)


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I just stumbled on this site as I was trying to research a suspected Foodborne Illness Outbreak in a state. I am a Health Inspector and here are some tips for those of you that suspect you have become sick because of something you ate. 1. The first thing you need to do is get to a doctor and request a stool sample. The results will help determine if in fact you have a foodborne illness. 2. It is required by most states for doctors that have discovered if a person has a foodborne illness to report it to the local health department. If that is not the case in your state YOU should call the health department in your city. They will ask you for a 72 hour history of what and where you have eaten, they will ask if you have been to the doctor (stool sample again), and also check with you if you have any of the suspected food left-such as a carryout portion. Any carryouts should always be refridgerated right away-do not leave them in your car or on a counter top and then eat them. If that were the case, the food would then be compromised and it would not be easy to determine if in fact the food had a bacteria when you ate it. Bacteria will grow rapidly if cold foods are not kept cold and hot foods are not kept hot. The sample may be of no use if it has not been carefully handled after leaving the restaurant. 3. Be patient and don't get too excited about who may or may not have served you unsafe food. Many callers to health departments always believe it is the last place they ate and they can't wait to sue. I assure you, it is just as easy for someone to eat at their grandmothers home and get sick as it is in a restaurant. Since it is almost Thanksgiving I'll just say that Turkey with Stuffing not cooked to the correct temperatures, or Turkey not thawed correctly is very dangerous. Be patient with the Health Department and any investigation you may ask them to lead. Remember, its not an outbreak until their are at least two CONFIRMED cases. 4. Perhaps most importantly is your own good sense on where you eat. If the appearance of the restaurant is dirty why eat there? Are employees washing their hands? Do employees look neat and clean? You be the judge. Even in the best places a breakdown in food safety can occur but look around at the surroundings and how employees are handling the food and their general appearance. If the place doesn't look good you may be smart to move on. Your discomfort is not taken lightly by the local Health Department I work for and I'm sure other departments out there feel the same way. Our only job is to inspect kitchens and procedures of restaurants to help in assuring that the public can feel good about eating out and that every possible procedure is in place assuring safe food is served.


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