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I have just been poisoned!


Deus Mortus
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Yesterday I was poisoned, in a most malicious attempt to end my grand life, I was served a bad mussel.

Now part of this was perhaps my fault, getting mussels in the summer is a risky gamble any way you do it. In the end I only spend a evening puking and was luckily spared from worse by evacuating my stomach so soon.

My question here is really what to do? Should I call the establishment and tell them what happened, should I be angry at them? Or should I just let it pass as it really wasn't that big of a deal.

I am really at a loss here, on one hand I'm feeling a lot better today and don't really feel it as such a traumatizing experience people always make it out to be (this wasn't my first time getting food poisoning and I have never found it really bad) on the other hand, I am somewhat pissed of that the cook in the restaurant didn't take the time to check for bad mussels, even though there were only two other party's eating there at the time.

So what would you do?

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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I don't know what you should do and I don't think there is anything the restaurant can do either but I imagine the owner/manager would want to know about it.

One time someone called me and said they got sick at my restaurant. I got their name and address and suggested they call the health dept. right away. I then called the health dept. and reported what they told me. The health dept. said no one else had reported getting sick at that time and doubted it was our fault but sent an inspector out and checked us out and found nothing wrong. We always got a high rating anyway. I was told someone asked a health inspector which restaurant he would have no problem eating at himself and he recommended ours. I suspect the person who called me was hoping I'd give him some large financial incentive to keep quit about it.

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Do you mean that they were served out of the shell and that the kitchen may have used an unopened one? I also am with weinoo on "how do you know it was a mussel?". My understanding is that it would be all the mussels not just one if they were contaminated with bacteria and that it would not be evident to the kitchen. Perhaps someone can shed light on the "do not eat unopened mussels" legend.

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I was grilled pretty hard on shellfish in school. There's the "big picture" toxins -- paralytic and amnesic shellfish toxins, where yes -- if one's bad, they're all bad.

But then there's the usual cross contamination and temperature abuse that can affect all food. Unless Deus is experiencing numbness, tingling in the extremities, or memory loss. It's likely just run-of-the-mill salmonella. And that can come from anything.

I won't say mussels AREN'T the culprit. But there's no easy way to be sure that they ARE, barring some very specific symptoms.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I was grilled pretty hard on shellfish in school. There's the "big picture" toxins -- paralytic and amnesic shellfish toxins, where yes -- if one's bad, they're all bad.

But then there's the usual cross contamination and temperature abuse that can affect all food. Unless Deus is experiencing numbness, tingling in the extremities, or memory loss. It's likely just run-of-the-mill salmonella. And that can come from anything.

I won't say mussels AREN'T the culprit. But there's no easy way to be sure that they ARE, barring some very specific symptoms.

Agreed! It sounds to me - from unpleasant experience - like salmonella, and who knows? Mussels are supicious, but not necessarily the cause.

I hope that you feel lots better soon, Deus. Ginger tea!!!

"Life itself is the proper binge" Julia Child

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I always heard that Vibrio infections were the big thing in mollusk food born illness.

IMO, it's more likely that a dead mussel slipped past a cook then the entire batch being compromised. It's a unfortunate, but mussels don't die at the same time, so you have to re examine them.

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I was told that v. vulnificus was mostly from undercooked/raw bivalves.

That also is easy to spot -- "riding the thunderbucket" combined with localized rash that makes eczema look benign.

But I'm no doctor, just a dude with a food safety certificate -- which is probably worth the paper it's written on, and no more than that.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I'd definitely communicate with the restaurant: As others have pointed out, there are plenty of things that might have caused the food poisoning, but if they restaurant has had other previous issues of this sort, it would give them a chance to have a word with their suppliers.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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numbness, tingling in the extremities, or memory loss

And all this time I've been blaming my symptoms on liquor rather than bad shellfish.

I think the OP should get a checked out by a medical professional. If the doc says it's a shellfish thing, then he can go complain to the management. Local health authorities should also be aware of this sort of thing in case it's not an isolated instance.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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There is no way to spectulativly determine the cause of your illness. Poisoning from food can occur from 4-36 hours after ingesting the offending organism. It requires the report of numerous people eating the same item and resulting illness for there to be a possible link. Then, the Health Dept for your area would have to investigate and empirically determine the source, i.e. violations or determination of "bad shellfish." As such, it is impt. that you let the establishment know about your concerns so they can be on notice that there is a potential problem. If no one calls, then how will they be able to take corrective measures.

Also, the source may be a more global issue such as the area of the harvested mussels may have become infected. As such, most health dept's require that the provider of the shellfish keep on hand for 90 days or so a tag for the shellfish so they can back track to the source of the infection. Again, another good reason to report your concerns.

Lastly, the largest concern w/ eating certain shellfish during the "months that do not have an R" (May-August) is the quality of the product. I can only speak for oysters here. Oysters breed during these R-less months, so they are insipid and not nearly as firm and tasty as during cooler months. Infectiously speaking: 1. there is tracking of the molluscs to track lots that were not refrigerated or otherwise mishandled, however somoeone typically gets sick prior to notice 2. Modern day refrigeration eliminates the concerns of earlier generations, however there is occasional failure, ergo the reason for the mollusc tagging.

Tom Gengo

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True I have no direct way to know it was the mussels, but there are no other real suspects, the two days before that I have been living on bread because of exams for school and not having the time to cook. And I think I would be the first one to get sick of bread from the local megamart, especially considering all those lovely additives they dump in the things.

Also I was served the mussels out of their shell, which really should have been a warning sign when I think about it.

So I really can't think of anything else what could have had that impact. That said I am really not that pissed and not in the want for a boon from the restaurant, this is just the first time I have had the chance to revisit a restaurant after food poisoning, the last few times this happened to me, I was on vacation and got it from street vendors (Pro Tip: Don't buy oysters from a street vendor with no cooling equipment).

That said, I'm off for groceries, which means walking past the establishment in question and I'll walk in and tell them what happened, just in case there is a problem with their supplier.

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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its not a foodborne illness outbreak till 2 or more people get sick from the same menu item. Your responsibility is to report it to the restaurant. Who should then offer you a free meal, but either way if they get multiple complaints it is their responsibility to contact the proper authorities and deal with the outbreak.

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its not a foodborne illness outbreak till 2 or more people get sick from the same menu item. Your responsibility is to report it to the restaurant. Who should then offer you a free meal, but either way if they get multiple complaints it is their responsibility to contact the proper authorities and deal with the outbreak.

While it you should definitely report it to the restaurant I do not feel they should have to offer you a free meal,

while this may be good for customer service as food poisoning (and other infections mistaken for such) are so difficult to pin down without biological tests or multiple complaints it puts the restaurant in a difficult position.

Food poisoning can kick in in a couple of hours or take several days so it's not easy to pin down unless there are multiple recorded cases. Often by the time biological tests come back, the source has long become non-infectious. When you also factor in viruses such as Norwalk that can be picked up from a hard surface (door handle/stair rail) that are not always connected with food.

It's complicated - and so is how a restaurant deals with it (So long as they know they are A1 on hygiene)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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Well I went in and explained what happened, they had a few more complaints yesterday and realized the batch of mussels they had was bad. He was rather jumpy seeing how the other people were demanding financial restitution, but once I explained I wasn't looking for that we had a nice chat and offered to make me some lunch. I really wasn't up to a warm lunch yet, but all in all I have to say it wasn't as uncomfortable as I imagined it to be.

I suppose next time I get poisoned I won't hesitate to call!

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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What kitchen lets a "batch" of bad mussels get in the door? You can smell 'em a mile away. Too much hashish in the morning, I suspect.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

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What kitchen lets a "batch" of bad mussels get in the door? You can smell 'em a mile away. Too much hashish in the morning, I suspect.

I assume they get them frozen.

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them."

-Winston Churchill

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  • 1 month later...

Communicating with the restaurant is very important.

A competent manager will be massively concerned as will the chef. Although a complaint so severe isn't what they want to hear at a good place they will go hell and high water to make sure it doesn't happen again. No one wants to be the chef who made the paella that killed 20 people.

I've had a similar experience with a supermarket. It was a neighbourhood outlet of a national chain and the quality of everything was pretty decent, made it very easy to shop for great cooking later. One day after breaking open a pack of lamb chops I found that one of them was rock hard and reeked. (2-3 hours after getting back from the market.) I chucked it in the bin and didn't think much of it. (a 2 dollar lamb chop destined for 9 hours in a dutch oven is minor) My housemate was however adamant that I let them know, he said to me "You don't know what was wrong with it but you noticed something was. What if someone didn't notice and is eating one the same as that right now?". I popped back down there and had a chat to the manager he offered to comp me my groceries (which I declined) and assured me he'd do all he could to find out what was up. 3 days later, picking up some fresh bread I saw signs at the entrance and checkout detailing that anyone who'd consumed lamb bought at any local out let of the chain for the past week see a doctor at the first sign of any stomach pains or illness.

The same manager later told me that some contamination had occured at the chain's butchery and that it had been rectified. I still shop there and I don't avoid the lamb because I know the same issue won't happen again.

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