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Where to Report Food Poisoning
updated: Jan 17, 2014, 2:25 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

I believe I got food poisoning this week from my longtime favorite restaurant on the Mesa. I was the only one who ate one item, so I was the only one of our group affected. Does anyone know if incidents like this are monitored or reported so that the public may be forewarned? Thanks for any info.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 486437 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 02:31 PM

Are you sure it was food poisoning? There's a nasty stomach bug making the rounds lately. I know of 4 people (adults) who've had it in the last 3 weeks.

 

 COMMENT 486444 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 02:40 PM

2nd the stomach flu. Rapid onset of nausea, vomiting and good ol diarrhea lasting about 6-8 hours followed by 24 hours of bla.....

 

 COMMENT 486452 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 02:54 PM

I had food poisoning once and ended up in the emergency room. The nurses at Cottage Hospital said that they report these types of cases to the Health Department. Not sure what's done after that. I called the restaurant and they were like, prove it. They were real jerks about it. They offered a $25 gift card, how generous. To this date I have not returned to the establishment and they are still in business. This was about 8 years ago.

 

 COMMENT 486456 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 02:59 PM

444 just described food poisoning to a tee.

There is no such thing as a "stomach flu". There is a "flu" and there are viruses, bacteria and parasites that will give you intestinal problems. When a stomach upsetting bacteria (e.g.; salmonella, e-coli) is food borne, it's "food poisoning".

 

 COMMENT 486457 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 02:59 PM

It wouldn't hurt to report it to the entity that licenses restaurants and I believe is Santa Barbara County Public Health Dept.

Hard to prove food poisoning if there is an active stomach flu with similar symptoms. I did once have food poisoning from scallops and had a very high fever, sweats, shaking and mild convulsions as well as the purging.

 

 COMMENT 486458 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 02:59 PM

I thought maybe I had a touch of food poisoning from last night's dinner out but other people I know have said that they have had a touch of stomach flu so it's too hard to judge if it's from dinner or the flu... just drink a lot of water and take it easy.

 

 COMMENT 486461 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:12 PM

Wife and I went to a fancy SB restaurant once and had a wonderful time for our anniversary. Upon leaving I felt overly full even though I hadn’t eaten much. By the time I got home I was super sick. About an hour later my wife got just as sick. I called the restaurant at 3 am and left a message on the machine. The owner was super cool about it and very apologetic. He mailed us a $150 gift certificate for our trouble and refunded us our entire meal. Since the service was great I told him not to refund us the tip since we had put it on our card. Because of how sick we got we could never bring ourselves to go back. Still, he didn’t question it and he put customer service first. Even then I remember thinking it would be nice if people could post where they got sick. EdHat is perfect for this. If 5 people logged that they got sick after eating somewhere, that would be a great way to figure out if it was flu or the food. If there was only one posting then maybe you just had a bug.

 

 COMMENT 486467 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:16 PM

456 is right, there's no such thing as stomach flu. However, there has been a virus which has been making the rounds around town this winter. Viruses can absolutely cause stomach and intestinal symptoms, but they are less common than people think.

But there IS something going around that is viral that is causing vomiting and cramping and diarrhea and it's not food poisoning.

That said, this is why we need the kind of restaurant inspection that grades the establishment like virtually every other similarly sized city in our state. Chances are a LOT of places in our town wouldn't be able to display an A rating.

 

 COMMENT 486474 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:27 PM

Tricky indeed...lots of things can make you pukie.
I find that food cooked on a flat grill that leaves little charred flecks on the food, like on a grilled cheese sandwich, is a predictably capable of causing a case of Rapid Transit BM. Rotten food is usually caught by your nose or tongue, and you know not to eat the tainted...
The best is when you eat with a group and you can ID the suspect item by who ate what...like an old friend that brought ceviche to a party that he made from frozen marine life he saved in his freezer...wow, so many sick people....but only the ones who ate the ceviche.
The flu seems to claim people randomly so it's always hard to blame a restaurant...and I don't think the Health department issues a list in SB.

 

 COMMENT 486479 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:40 PM

Stomach flu is just another way people say viral gastro-enteritis. The point is it's more common to have a stomach flu (a self limited bout of viral gastroenteritis}than it is to get a food-bourne illness from an actual pathogen. IF food is properly stored and prepared.

If 2 or more get sick from the same meal, their could be a bacterial pathogen in the food.We always blame the last thing we ate when we get sick.

 

 COMMENT 486484P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:47 PM

You can report it to the health department and given enough similar incident reports they may investigate. But once your compliant is met with their sympathetic ears, it usually stops there. "Food Poisoning" can happen anywhere under a variety of circumstances. A year or so ago we had a lovely dinner at Spago (Beverly Hills) - ordered blue corn ravioli with wild boar red sauce,.. I can't believe what my body endured. All exits; no waiting for at least 24 hours.

 

 COMMENT 486489 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:54 PM

I had a meal in San Francisco that made me horribly sick. So much so, that I ended up in the emergency room. I'd have sworn it was food poisoning but they tested, and it wasn't a pathogen in the food, I had developed a shellfish allergy. (A surprise since I used to eat it without a problem.) A different time I did get food poisoning and it turned out to be campylobacter from undercooked chicken. It had looked a little pinkish but I didn't want to return it and look "picky" to my dining companions. Bad idea.

 

 COMMENT 486491P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:54 PM

Yes, it's always worthwhile to report to SB County Public Health.
Environmental Health:
To report a Food Borne Illness (FBI) ... please speak directly to our office professionals. You may contact our ... South County office in Santa Barbara at (805) 681-4900 (Press 8 to reach the front desk). Complaints can also be sent to our website phdehsweb@sbcphd.org http://www.countyofsb.org/phd/ehs/

This is a tough question. I got sick at a beloved Chinese place in the late '80's. It only lasted about 1-2 hours! I've never eaten seafood at an Asian restaurant since, even though I eat raw seafood. I know, illogical.

Going public could really hurt restaurants and create a wave of rumor and minor hysteria. Not everything one reads on the Internet, or Edhat, is true. If it were easy to trace food-borne outbreaks, there wouldn't be departments of epidemiology.

I had campylobacter once, it may be the most common food-borne illness. I was so sick, like influenza, for a week. I did report, but by then I couldn't account for every meal. pretty sure it came from chicken in my own kitchen, even though I ate out often.

"Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. Most cases occur as isolated, sporadic events, not as part of recognized outbreaks. ... about 14 cases are diagnosed each year for each 100,000 persons in the population. Many more cases go undiagnosed or unreported, and campylobacteriosis is estimated to affect over 1.3 million persons every year.
http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/campylobacter/

 

 COMMENT 486492 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 03:55 PM

I thought I had food poisoning this past weekend, until I found out about five other people (friends or friends of friends) that also got "food poisoning" from different restaurant establishments this past weekend. Sounds like a bug is going around to me!

 

 COMMENT 486498 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 04:12 PM

There is some sort of viral gastro-enteritis going around. Heard that from a triage nurse at Sansum when I called in for advice. I have also heard from other parents that there's one going around in the schools.

 

 COMMENT 486519 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 04:40 PM

Fukishima maybe?

Radiation Poisoning: "...Relatively smaller doses result in gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting..."

And it was recently reported that the govt. ordered 14 million doses of potassium iodide.

Coincidence?

 

 COMMENT 486521 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 04:44 PM

Yes.

 

 COMMENT 486522 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 04:45 PM

I got sick after eating a burrito at carp taco bell. The guys on the line giggled as they made my order. I called the manger and he said it would take 24 hours for me to get sick on the burrito I just ate. I think it tasted like sperm, I threw up.

 

 COMMENT 486524 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 04:49 PM

Well, to be brief: Of course these kinds of incidents are reported. You just did so, yourownself. Right?

If you are sick, you should go to the doctor. The doctor can take appropriate samples (fecal, blood, sputum, whatEV) and a potential pathogen MAY be recognizable.

If the cause of the illness really was the restaurant (and I doubt it) it is either a fluke (because maybe they got bad supplies beyond their control) or maybe they're sloppy, in which case your incident will tally up with other incidents probably sooner than later and hopefully corrective and/or punitive measures are taken.

I believe the proper reporting authority is your physician. Without data your suspicions are worth as much as the wind.

 

 COMMENT 486530P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 04:58 PM

Yes, report it to the health department. It is important that everyone report when they suspect "food poisoning". There are serious groupings of these cases nationwide regularly, and it is often investigated to the source by the CDC.

Salmonella caused a cluster of illnesses last November which resulted in Tyson Foods recalling of 33,840 lbs of mechanically separated chicken as of January 10th 2014 (sold to institutions nationwide). Nine people in Tennessee became ill, two seriously enough to be hospitalized; none died. Antibiotic resistance testing is currently being done.

Without the reporting of illness in the above case, the connection to the chicken may not have been made and the recall would not have occurred, possibly resulting in more illness and maybe death.

 

 COMMENT 486536 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 05:06 PM

Ever worked in a restaurant? We all have seen people exit without washing their hands in a public restroom. The restaurant workers who do not keep their hands clean or do not use gloves (or, do not change their gloves after handling money), can spread illnesses. Pathogens can be transmitted via food prepared by ill workers. That's "food poisoning" -- the food transmits the bug to you.

When I worked in the restaurant and food service industry many years ago, I had very dry and sometimes chapped hands from washing 20X or more each shift. That was my personal standard, not one imposed by the management. It's what I would want if I was the customer. But, I saw some unclean practices among co-workers back then, and I doubt it's any better today.

I'm squeamish of what food handlers are touching - money, door and drawer handles, cell phones, face/hair, then back to the food.

 

 COMMENT 486540P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 05:17 PM

524, 491 here. I agree with you, but -- even though my campylobacter was confirmed in a lab, the doc did NOT report it to Public Health, I did. This was in the 1990's; doubt it was a mandated report, but doc should have but was lazy/careless. My guts not stomach were sick (no throwing up), and it's bacterial and treatable, so if it lasts, go to the doctor! I actually continued eating but ached so bad I could barely sit up once I finally had someone take me to doctor. Doc put a stethoscope on my belly and said "yes, you're sick" and gave me Cipro.

If any of you know anyone who cannot hold down water, make sure they get to an urgent care clinic or the ER for IV fluids!

 

 COMMENT 486557 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 05:44 PM

There is a very nasty, quick onset stomach bug that hit our kids' school last week and teachers and students all had to go home quite suddenly. In most it only lasted about 12 hours, but some for longer. They bring their own food to school, so not food poisoning.

 

 COMMENT 486561P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 05:48 PM

I say stomach flu too.

Members of our family just got down with it. It lasts about four day. No fun.

BTW, food poisoning usually takes at least 12 to 24 hours to set in and it's pretty rare actually.

 

 COMMENT 486571 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 06:12 PM

You can also see health inspection reports for local restaurants at the SB County Public Health Dept website that 491P noted. Just go to Food Facility - Retail > Online Inspection Results > Retail Food Establishment Online Inspection Search. I don't think the county makes these results readily available and public enough. You might be surprised by the health violations for some places that people tend to frequent around here.

 

 COMMENT 486576 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 06:20 PM

Thanks! Didn't know those inspection reports were available. Interesting.

 

 COMMENT 486577 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 06:26 PM

I once got sick after attending a Saturday meeting at a Ventura hotel.

I was well enough Tuesday to go to work.

The VERY FIRST call I got was FROM the Ventura County health department who described every item on the buffet menu at the hotel and asked me which ones I ate.

They deducted that it was mayonaisse that hadn't been stored properly since all but one of us ate the mayo and got sick.

One girl who didn't like mayo was the ONLY person who did NOT.

I was impressed by their diligence.

 

 COMMENT 486591P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 07:33 PM

Thanks 571, I had no idea either. It's not a listing, asks you to type in what restaurant you want to find out about. https://www.countyofsb.org/phd/environmentalhealth.aspx?id=26260

But I see no field to enter my request. Is it my browser?

 

 COMMENT 486604 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 08:15 PM

591P - Just go here. Then, simply type the first letter of the restaurant you want to see and a whole list will come up with all establishments beginning with that letter- kind of like on The Restaurant Guy.

Paste this link in your browser:

countyofsb.org/phd/environmentalhealth.aspx?id=26260

 

 COMMENT 486605 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 08:26 PM

I typed ins street names to get a list, like state or Calle real... Very interesting. Glad to see those I frequent doing it right!

 

 COMMENT 486612 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-17 08:47 PM

591P, I think the "s" in the link that you're using is what's causing the fields not to appear. If you just use "http" instead of "https", then you'll see the fields that you can enter text into.

 

 COMMENT 486639 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 07:29 AM

Our entire family has been sick for this past week. 1 of us, stomach, head and body aches, another with just aches and stuffy sinuses, and the other two, fever, stomach, head and sinuses. I feel lucky to be the one with only stomach and head and body aches. I had food poisoning once. It took about 8 hours from the time we ate, to beginning multiple visits to the porcelain god over the next 24-36 hours. Its touch when you don't know whether to sit or kneel. You can't do both at once, but food poisoning gives you a need to. Explanation is for those that haven't been there yet.

 

 COMMENT 486657P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 08:28 AM

I want to thank edhat today for, in general, helping me to keep to my New Year's resolution to diet, by thoroughly taking my appetite away.

 

 LUCKY 777 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 09:35 AM

I got extremely sick from sushi at a local restaurant 10 years ago, so did one friend I went with but not the other...... we ate different things, but she and I were more adventurous... the health department were very thorough and reported back to me that they determined the refrigerator was not operating at a cold enough temperature to safely store fish. They made the restaurant replace it, but I have lost my enthusiasm for sushi. It was a very very rough illness, I thought I was dying. The procedure for tracking the onset was very thorough, detailing all food intake for several days previous, and I thought it was an example of government serving the public well.

 

 COMMENT 486706 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 09:54 AM

Difficult to diagnose by the victim but sometimes the proof is there (or, as the adage goes in the pudding) My wife, I and family went to an Italian restaurant in Goleta (no longer in business). The main owner was a long time friend. Those of us who ate one specific item got sick the others did not. When I called to politely warn my friend the proprietor of the inicdent for his information, he got very angry and denied it could be the food. As a result we no longer ate there and our friendship faded into oblivion.

 

 COMMENT 486726 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 10:23 AM

I got sick with salmonella several years ago, while on a cross country camping trip. I was able to enjoy seeing five states from the bathroom window of a pick-up camper, as my husband raced back home. The only thing I could keep down, some of the time, for two weeks was Rondo (electrolyte drink).

The health department determined it was the eggs at Circus, Circus buffet in Las Vegas and I was required to have several stool cultures. I was sick for six months, but they wouldn't give me antibiotics because they were afraid I would become a carrier. I finally became clear and was no longer sick. That kind of "everybody racing for the exit at once" is something stomach flu doesn't even come close to.

 

 COMMENT 486740 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 10:58 AM

522: That is for us to assume you know the taste of sperm. tee heeee!

 

 COMMENT 486741P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 10:59 AM

As those who have experienced food poisoning know, 'stomach flu' is a little, tiny annoyance by comparison.

In addition, for a small number of people, infection with food-borne pathogens like Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter can lead (within a month of the infection) to an autoimmune disease called 'Reactive Arthritis,' which often behaves like a somewhat milder form of Rheumatic Arthritis.

It can be disabling, and it is incurable, though partially treatable with the same drugs that are used for rheumatic disease.

 

 COMMENT 486767P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 12:04 PM

yeah yeah yeah, got you all beat. Try getting "all exits no waiting" on a train from Tangiers to Rabat. W.C's broken. OMG. Makes getting sick anywhere in the State look like a day at a Spa.

 

 COMMENT 486805 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 01:47 PM

OP here. Thanks for all the info and the gorey stories! I am just starting to feel better. The symptoms I had from the K. Pao with brown rice were very defined: Onset was about 4 hours after eating (although I did feel an odd burn shortly after eating). Stomach cramps but mostly SMALL intestinal cramping that kept me up all night. Then came the day of feeling so sick with a knot in my guts. Midday, surprise! The projectile vomiting began, but not much lower intestinal activity. Ugh. Total down time about 36 hours!
No Fever, though my extremities felt chilly during the worst of it. Now that I can eat a little and have been able to get back to my routines, I feel reborn!

 

 COMMENT 486819 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 02:31 PM

Again, if you're sick, go to the doctor. Right now you're just spreading disinformation and possibly damaging someone's reputation.

There are many things that cause those symptoms.

 

 COMMENT 486824 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 02:40 PM

After a dinner at the Best Western restaurant near Cottage Hospital (before current name and management), I experienced simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea.

I checked with the health department, found out this place had not been inspected in years, wrote a letter to the department citing my experience and concerns, asking them to inspect the restaurant and sent a copy of the letter to that Best Western manager.

That letter was never answered, but not too long after, the name and management of the restaurant changed. Don't know if there was a connection.

 

 COMMENT 486829 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 02:55 PM

Think first... are you allergic to any ingredients? This gives me flu-like symptoms almost immed. after eating shellfish. Allergies can cause vomiting within an hour, bloat, belching, bile coming up to warn you. If you don't react otherwise with worse symptoms attacking your body.

Asian foods sometimes contain condensed Oyster Sauce & cause shellfish allergic reactions you may not have checked ingredients.

Contact Restaurant Mgr./Owner You can always ask to see kitchen for cleanliness, they should be proud to show you. Not satisfied? Call health dept. with questions.

But if all parties got sick, I'd wonder about the food freshness also! It's not likely that everyone would come down with a flu at the same time.

 

 COMMENT 487270P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-20 08:15 AM

Good for you for reporting these incidences. I got sick after eating fish at a downtown SB restaurant in November, was irregular for a month after, but didn't want to go through the hassle of reporting and, er testing....

 

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