Food poisoning prophylactic
May 31, 2007 10:39 AM   Subscribe

I think I had some rotten meat in an egg roll at a Chinese restaurant. What can I do?

This was 20 minutes ago. How can I keep from this degenerating into food poisoning? I already made myself vomit just to be sure. I considered putting myself on some antibiotics (I have a store of them), though I know this won't help much if it's the toxins. I'd consider charcoal but I don't happen to have anything like that.

Anyone with some experience?
posted by calhound to Food & Drink (28 answers total)
Why do you think it was bad? Did you suspect and eat it anyway?
posted by agregoli at 10:43 AM on May 31, 2007

Syrup of ipecac - now.
posted by bigmusic at 10:50 AM on May 31, 2007

Do not use antibiotics! You should not even own them without a prescription, unsupervised and/or inappropriate use of antibiotics is what is largely responsible for the creation of drug resistant strains of bacteria. So, throw them out, and forget about them.

Also don't worry about food poisoning until you actually feel sick. It is already out of your system, and unless you have a compromised immune system it is unlikely that that small amount that may have been ingested would effect you even if it was tainted in the first place.

If in a couple hours you do feel bad, and its not just in your head then go see a doctor.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:51 AM on May 31, 2007

This is entirely anecdotal.

Once I cut up a mango using a knife I had earlier used to slice raw chicken. I did not realize that was why the mango tasted funny until later.

I decided to kill the bacteria by swallowing a teacup full of gin.

I did not get sick!

Hooray for me,

posted by Comrade_robot at 10:53 AM on May 31, 2007 [5 favorites]

For prophylaxis, I don't think you should go beyond some Pepto-Bismol. Activated charcoal is for poisonous substances like chemicals or metals so that's of no help to you here.

Drink a lot of water. If it is food poisoning, you're going to become dehydrated from dealing with it and/or diarrhea.
posted by junesix at 10:59 AM on May 31, 2007

Don't be silly. I've eaten rotten meat tons of times. It gets flushed out of your system pretty quickly. If you want to flush your internals, have some peppery sauce. But generally, rotten meat will be taken care of by your tummy pretty quickly.
posted by markesh at 11:01 AM on May 31, 2007

Again, why did you suspect it to be rotten? You've already expelled it from your body, if there is any reaction to be had you've already rid yourself of the majority of the contaminant. Don't take the antibiotics just in case, and you don't need the ipecac as you've already vomited.

Although you won't really know for sure that you would have gotten sick from a bacteria or toxin, you can also call your County Board of Health to report a case of potentially bad food preparation or "rotten" food at the local establishment.
posted by Asherah at 11:02 AM on May 31, 2007

Fwiw, syrup of ipecac is very difficult to find these days - I know from bitter experience having swallowed a dental crown.
posted by fish tick at 11:08 AM on May 31, 2007

What can you do? Stop being a hypochondriac and forget about it. You can't taste food poisoning. Egg rolls are deep-fried, and if cooked the regular amount of time, anything inside will be pretty much sterilized. If the meat tasted off, well, it was probably old. That doesn't necessarily mean it would've given you food poisoning, even if you ate it raw, and you certainly didn't.

So yeah, chill out. If you get gas, try Pepto-Bismol or a probiotic.
posted by rxrfrx at 11:18 AM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Swallowing alcohol to kill bacteria is an urban legend, the 40% strength of most hard liquors is too low to be a disinfectant. You got lucky, Comrade_robot, that chicken must not have had any (or enough) of the right kinds of bacteria to make you sick.

At this point there isn't much else you can do calhound. As junesix said, activated charcoal is for soaking up simple chemical toxins, it won't work on bacteria. Food poisoning is caused by 2 things, either rotten food that is full of bacterial toxins, or bacteria that can multiply in your stomach. Since you made yourself vomit, you've already gotten rid of most of the toxins that might have been in the eggroll and if that was the case then your reaction should be mild. If there were bacteria in that eggroll that can multiply in your gut and cause problems, they're already in there and you'll pretty much have to ride it out.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:22 AM on May 31, 2007

While it is entirely likely that a combination of a lack of bacteria and my robust immune system prevented me from falling ill, swallowing a teacup of gin /did/ make me feel better about having made such a stupid mistake.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:47 AM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Take a sedative.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2007 [3 favorites]

It's an old school thing, but when I travel to remote countries I bring a thing of good whisky with me & take a shot of it every night. Even though I hate whisky. I've been told by some earnest old-school world travelers that the stuff will kill all sorts of potential infections & bacteria & nastiness. Whether it's related or not, all I can say is that so far (knock on wood) despite eating some nasty stuff in some nasty places I have been the only person I know to have never gotten any bacteria-related illnesses or parasites.

So for that reason, I say down a shot or two of whisky and hope it kills something quick.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:05 PM on May 31, 2007

@ TungstenChef, research does in fact suggest that alcohol with meals prevents food poisoning.

So yeah, I'd second taking a shot of whisky.
posted by J-Train at 12:12 PM on May 31, 2007

TungstenChef pretty much has it, but the bacterial toxins can be adsorbed by things like activated charcoal or kaolin (which used to be a component of Kaopectate). Also, the bacterial toxins are a problem whether or not the bacteria are still living. Cooking will kill the bacteria, but won't inactivate the toxins.
posted by Good Brain at 12:24 PM on May 31, 2007

Well, I stand corrected on alcohol vs bacteria. I could've sworn I read that at Straight Dope or Snopes but my searches turned up nothing, so drink up!
posted by TungstenChef at 1:20 PM on May 31, 2007

I appreciate everyone's timely advice, so I'll reply individually:

agregoli - It tasted off at first, but the egg roll was oily and had cabbage so I wasn't trusting my senses... I ate it halfway down before I realized I wasn't just imagining it, and I had to hand it to a tablemate who turned her nose up at it.

bigmusic - no ipecac syrup handy, but I'm going to get a bottle for my emergency kit.

bobbydigital - I have rx's for these; they're in a survival cache we own; others are off-label veterinary ones.

comrade_robot - Interesting anecdote, thanks.

junesix - Good info... I managed to contact an acquaintance who's a doctor and he recommended the Pepto Bismol too.. he says the bismuth has some antibiotic properties.

markesh - you may be right.. so far I feel ok.

asherah - I agree. I actually did call the city heath dept to advise them.. they're good people.

fish tick - think I saw it at Walgreens; I'll have to check. Won't take it this time of course.

rxrfrx - very insightful point I didn't think about... I guess if the bacteria are killed off then antibiotics would have been moot, and vomiting the toxins was the right choice.

tungstenchef - agreed.. thanks for the comments.

ambrosia_voyeur - don't have any.. besides I think I feel ok at this point.

miss lynnster - though comrade_robot discounted evidence about the liquor, I might do so anyway next time as it can't hurt. Though as tungstenchef pointed out, live bacteria were probably killed in the deep fryer.

j-train - yep, it can't hurt. Bottoms up, as Caligula said.

good brain - these things absorb the toxins? my doctor friend said pepto bismol but I think he was talking on terms of antibiotic properties. I'll have to get some kao.

Hope I didn't miss anyone. Anyhow it's been 3 hours and I feel fine. Last time I had food poisoning (from chicken at Wendy's in Denver a couple of years ago) the onset of symptoms was about 90 minutes, so I think I may be in the clear.

Also it occurred to me it may be good to have coffee to accelerate digestive metabolism and get any toxins moving out of there.
posted by calhound at 1:33 PM on May 31, 2007

Your pharmacist may not allow you to buy syrup of ipecac. I tried to get some for my emergency kit after I had a baby. The pharmacist said they no longer sell it over the counter. I called around, talking to Poison Control and community health and the like, and they say it's a semi-controlled substance now. Apparently, a lot of bulimics were buying it.
posted by acoutu at 1:40 PM on May 31, 2007

Just to recap what I did -- shortly after I posted, I remembered I have a good client who's a doctor and gave him a call. He recommended (1) Pepto Bismol and (2) holding off on the antibiotics but if symptoms developed (fever, chills) to start doxycycline for 3 days. I've followed his advice and so far so good.
posted by calhound at 1:41 PM on May 31, 2007

calhound - You're not necessarily in the clear yet. Although the types of food poisoning caused by the food being full of toxins usually come on pretty quickly, the types where bacteria are multiplying in your gut usually take 1-7 days before you show any symptoms and can take up to 90 days in the case of listeria. Still, that's less likely the case here because the deep frying would've killed any bacteria already in there, and it would have had to have been cross-contaminated after being fried.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:41 PM on May 31, 2007

If you do manage to get some Ipecac, do NOT use it after any kind of poisonings without calling poison control first. Some poisons cause more harm coming up than they would staying down, such as caustic liquids.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:43 PM on May 31, 2007

Wow. I'm the first person to mention raw ginger!

I use it whenever I have eaten anything "questionable."

It helped me walk around the world. Whenever I questioned the water or food, I chewed a bit of ginger very thouroughly and worked up a good "saliva," until I had swallowed the entirely minced ginger.

Works like a charm.
posted by humannaire at 3:06 PM on May 31, 2007

Never ask questions about out of date food or bacteria on Metafilter. You'll wake up 6 days later naked in the shower in a paranoiac daze.
posted by fire&wings at 3:57 PM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well at least is wasn't one of those questions like "I have a rotten eggroll on my counter. Can I still eat it?"
posted by The Deej at 4:28 PM on May 31, 2007

Eat it!
posted by ob at 5:03 PM on May 31, 2007

The Deej, you mean "I have an eggroll that I left on the counter for 90 minutes. Can I still eat it?"
posted by rxrfrx at 5:59 PM on May 31, 2007

You can get ipecac syrup at, CVS, etc.
posted by candyland at 6:03 PM on May 31, 2007

I stand corrected. But that was 2 and a half hours ago. So now it's 4 hours old. And I want to wash it down with a 7 year old cola.
posted by The Deej at 6:03 PM on May 31, 2007

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