How soon will i know if i have food poisoning
October 2, 2009 5:40 PM   Subscribe

How quickly will I know whether or not I have food poisoning?

I just ate some pretty rare/raw hamburger at a work party. It was cooked on the outside, but very pink through the entire middle -- pinker than anything I've eaten before. I didn't have the presence of mind to throw it away and it was only after I was done that I thought, "Dang, I probably shouldn't have eaten that."

How soon will I know whether or not I have e coli or something else?

[As of now it has been about 30 minutes]
posted by crapples to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If in about three to four hours you don't get debilitating stomach cramps that send you running to the rest room and have you moaning in pain on the commode while you simultaneously break out in cold perspiration, then you'll probably be fine.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:46 PM on October 2, 2009

For E. coli, the incubation period is 1 to 10 days.
posted by purpleclover at 5:59 PM on October 2, 2009

Depends on what kind of microbe it is.

Staph infections can start in as little as one or two hours, if I remember correctly.

Listeria can take a day or so, or even months.

E. coli can take a few hours or a few days.

More info for your perusal here. And .
posted by Ouisch at 6:03 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by Ouisch at 6:03 PM on October 2, 2009

You are probably fine if it was cooked on the outside - I had a few occasions in college where I'd cook a patty and think it was done, and bite into it and it was practically still mooing, to my dismay. I, like you, ate the burger, then spent the whole day freaking, thinking I'd get food poisoning. I did a bunch of googling about eating raw hamburger meat, and everything I read reassured me a little bit more. And sure enough, I was fine.

good luck - food poisoning is terrible.
posted by firei at 6:12 PM on October 2, 2009

.... OK. Thanks a lot. My follow up is: With what I've described how likely do you think it is that I'll be experiencing any of these terrible things that I've just read about on those pages that you linked to?

It was cooked - but very very pink.
posted by crapples at 6:14 PM on October 2, 2009

You will know when you need to shit and puke simultaneously - RIGHT NOW - and break into a cold, cold sweat.

Otherwise, you're probably fine.
posted by goo at 6:15 PM on October 2, 2009

Raw meat isn't inherently puketastic. If the meat was handled and stored relatively carefully, you're fine.

If it wasn't, four hours is usually enough to know whether you're about to have a really festive weekend.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:25 PM on October 2, 2009

Dude, you're fine. People eat rare hamburgers all the time.
posted by milarepa at 6:26 PM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would worry too much about it. This suggests that the nasty strain of E. coli (O157:H7) is detected one quarter of one percent of the time in samples of ground beef.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service aims to keep the incidence of ground beef that tests positive for this strain of E. coli under .20 percent. That's not a typo; that's one-fifth of a percent.

Your odds are pretty good.

(People who are telling you that you'll know within a few hours are wrong.)
posted by purpleclover at 6:27 PM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I used to eat raw meat all the time. Never had a problem. Gotten terrible food poisoning from rice (on several different occasions), but never from meat. You're probably fine.
posted by phoenixy at 6:35 PM on October 2, 2009

Oh, and here's a link to the FSIS's testing program. Scroll down to this heading: "2007 Results: Actions Taken to Reduce E. coli O157:H7 "
posted by purpleclover at 7:10 PM on October 2, 2009

Generally, e.coli (and listeria) contamination is a result of poor food processing practices at the source, and you really have to cook the shit out of a hamburger to get rid of e.coli, something that people rarely (heh) do.

Staph or salmonella would be my main concern.

FWIW, I've eaten plenty of raw meat at Korean bbq joints in Japan, including ground hamburger. No problems.

However, e.coli is nasty. It can affect your nervous system (something I didn't realize back then).
posted by KokuRyu at 8:15 PM on October 2, 2009

The thing you're running into is that there are a few different kinds of food poisoning. As KokuRyu said above, e. coli wouldn't have been affected how long it had been cooked; the kind that cooking would solve, you'd know pretty quick. The two times I had food poisoning I knew within a few hours -- and I knew pretty definitively. I experienced the gastrointestinal phenomenon that my best friend once euphemistically called "Two exits, no waiting".

(For the record: the first was some random bacterial contaminant that I'd picked up in a somewhat dodgy fast food restaurant in Ireland, and the second was when I ate an ear of corn which had been cooked all in the same pot with another ear of corn which was infected with some kind of corn smut. I had a miserable 12 hours both times, but after 12 hours I was over with it, and the gastrointestinal upset was as bad as it got.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 PM on October 2, 2009

Whatever your current status, I'd be remiss not to offer: for food poisoning, take an activated charcoal capsule and let the stuff soak up any toxins. It will! I found out about this in Prescription for Nutritional Healing by P. Balch, CNC and J. Balch, M.D. - an excellent, encyclopedic, hugely useful book based on research. A housemate was in major distress after a restaurant meal, I looked up food poisoning in the PNH, found some in my natural pharmacopia, and her urgent bathroom lunges subsided within 20 minutes of taking the stuff. My own experience with activated charcoal occurred just this past Monday when I thought I was suffering from one of the flus going around, but reached for the charcoal just in case. Within 15-20 minutes of taking one capsule my cramps, rushes to the bathroom, and sweats were gone.
Note: don't take more than one, maybe two, or, ironically, constipation will insue!
posted by sparrowdance at 9:02 PM on October 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, pink meat is still cooked. Red is what you should be wary of.

This is medium rare, how a burger should be:

This is rare, an can sometimes be iffy:

But, I would not worry just because you ate a pink burger. If you feel bad, go to the doctor, but it's a rare enough thing that it's not worth fretting.
posted by CharlesV42 at 5:13 AM on October 3, 2009

It looked like that rare picture -- pretty dark pink/red. However, it's the next morning now and i'm still alive. thanks for all of the great information. gotta love this site when it's 10 times more useful than calling a nurse or doctor.
posted by crapples at 6:05 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

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