How to Recognize and Treat Food Poisoning


Lately, there are food shortages, but forget that for a moment. What food is available, is not really fresh! I have an Internet alert that pings me when there’s an outbreak or food poisoning or food recall. I’m alerted almost every day!

Case in point, recently I wanted to make a salmon fillet with lemon and onion slices on top of it, and serve it with a baked potato and a salad with tomatoes. This is a pretty simple, right? And yet it could not be accomplished because every single item had been recalled due to contamination or decomposition!

Here’s what happened and I’ll try to keep this short because the ‘meat’ of my article is further down below. But please humor me and listen because the following recalls may have affected you too: 


1. Onions and Fish.

I bought two bags of onions from two different stores. Every single onion was thrown away due to that nationwide recall. The offending onions were sourced from outside our country and were sold nationwide in thousands of supermarkets. The recall was due to salmonella contamination from the original source in another country. 

It was so frustrating when I found out because it took me two days (and a lot of onion tears) to clean, chop and process these onions for cooking (and the rest for freezing), only to trash them all!

As for the salmon, that’s not too uncommon. It happened locally when a salmonella outbreak occurred involving many types of seafood (salmon, grouper, snapper, trout, and many others). The contamination that caused the food-borne illness was traced to my local Denver, Colorado fish processing facility, which you can read about HERE.

2. Slimy Lettuce.
I tried to make a salad. I opened the package of 3 heads of Baby Romaine and two of them were dissolving right before my eyes – dripping with wet, slimy liquid, a sign of decomposition. Mushy, decomposing or smelly lettuce should never be eaten! I didn’t even want to put this in my car to return it to the store so I discarded it and washed my hands three times.

3. Rotten Tomatoes.
The tomatoes I bought in a plastic-covered 3-pack (I forgot the brand name) were covered in white mold on the underside! You can’t see it through the plastic. I took them back to my supermarket because the three tomatoes cost almost $8 so I wanted them replaced. They kindly replaced them with another package which I checked at their Customer Service counter before leaving, but it was also filled with rotten tomatoes! Sheesh!

4. Moldy Lemons.
I had gone to a big-box retailer and purchased a large bag of lemons. Two days later I went to the kitchen eager to use them, and every lemon had to be thrown out due to whitish-green mold festering on them. What the heck?!

5. Green Potatoes.
I wanted to make a baked potato, but upon peeling them, they turned bright green. FYI, the green tinge is naturally occurring from solanine, and probably occurs from artificial or fluorescent light during the growing season. Solanine is not usually considered poisonous unless it’s consumed in excessive amounts or if you’re sensitive to it. Normally, you can just peel it off and get to the white potato. 

I don’t normally get annoyed by such a thing, but it’s the cumulative problems that just set me off. And plus, these potatoes were super vivid green! 

So the simple task of making a fresh salmon and salad dinner with a baked potato turned out to be a bust! Worse than that, there have been many other foods that I’ve paid a lot of money for and then threw into the trash! So wasteful! If it’s happening to me, it has to be happening to you.

Please tell me I’m not alone.
I’m seeing this all the time. Why has this suddenly been occurring over the past year?! I have never even seen it before 2021.

Lately, with all these close-calls, I walk around the kitchen and feel a bit like MONK, the detective with OCD. Here’s how it happened…

The Trick that Uses Decomposing Meat.
Many consumers are unaware of this trick which poses meat as a conveniently basted/marinated item that you take home and throw in the oven or grill! This is another reason to buy meat products only from reputable sources. 


The meat is basically disguised as “marinated” which is a common trick that some unscrupulous stores do to you because they know you are busy and don’t want to season or marinate your own steak. So it goes like this —> close to (or after) the suggested expiration date of the meat, the manager will instruct the butcher to apply a lot of seasoning or some wet marinade to the old meat. This extends the expiration date because now it gives it a few more days or a week as a new product. The marinade disguises the brownish color of a bad steak. This happened to me. Upon opening my package at home, it smelled to high heaven! It was also slimy, another tell-tale sign. 

There are major problems going on with our food supply chain…

A few days ago, a recall was issued by a popular meat company out of an abundance of caution for pepperoni and ham products due to possible listeria contamination. HERE is the full list of products associated with this recall. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 260 deaths from listeriosis, an intestinal pathogen that can cause muscle aches, fever, headache, meningitis, stiff neck, light sensitivity, confusion, poor coordination or seizures. 

Another huge company recently said to immediately discard some of their baking packages for cakes and cake mixes due to possible metal fragments in them. Things such as their chocolate cake, yellow cake mix, angel food cake, red velvet and even the cinnamon rolls. These are sold all over the United States and you are instructed to throw them away immediately according to the Kroger recall. Incidentally, and unfortunately, about 100,000 pounds of chicken was recalled from Trader Joe’s and Kroger’s due to foreign agents possibly being in there (not due to contamination). The information regarding all of this is HERE.

In November 2021, there was a hepatitis scare, and cases that possibly spread from a worker who tested positive for hepatitis A. He worked at a Starbucks and may have failed to wash his hands before handling food, thus exposing thousands of customers to hepatitis! Starbucks is investigating the SITUATION. Here’s another article about THIS.

By the way, hepatitis is an infection that is spread from ingesting fecal matter in microscopic amounts and outbreaks have been popping up. I just told you about Starbucks, and there was another problem in Roanoke, Virginia recently with Famous Anthony’s. There were 31 hospitalizations and sadly, 3 deaths from this OUTBREAK!  The poisonings are well-documented, here’s an older ARTICLE.

In Norway, frozen raspberries were just tested and found to have caused an outbreak of hepatitis. A sushi grocery/restaurant in Montreal has also caused an OUTBREAK.

The company that makes alkaline “Real Water” is no longer in operation, but their products may still be out there, and there was a fatality associated with their bottled water.

Like I said, the number of food poisonings has dramatically risen and it’s concerning. 

Symptoms of Hepatitis
Jaundice (yellowish skin and/or eyes)
Fever
Fatigue
Nausea or vomiting
Abdominal pain
Dark yellow or brown-colored urine
Discolored stools
Diarrhea 

My article isn’t about hepatitis, but that food-borne illness is a reminder of the sloppiness and lackadaisical attitude now seen in so many parts of the retail industry. 

I could go on because I do have other stories, but I won’t since you get the point. I also want to mention that no one gets sick from eating at my home (just in case you want to come visit me). I’m neurotic in the kitchen, washing everything carefully and using gloves. Dealing with so many close calls recently has inspired me to write today’s article. You should be aware and protect your own family. 

The challenge for you is finding out what caused your illness and that’s because after eating something bad, you might not see symptoms for hours, sometimes even three days after exposure! The symptoms of a stomach bug can last anywhere from a few hours to a week or two! 

The point is that the USA (and all over the world) is encountering questionable foods now, ALL THE TIME. And the constant concerns about boats sitting offshore (not being able to be off-loaded in a timely fashion) means more food shortages, and rotten foods in your home! Workers don’t appear to care that much as seen by the uptick in foreign objects, metal fragments and more that is suddenly being discovered by FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service.)

This is the quickest way to get a stomach bug – eat something bad! It’s dangerous for some people too, like the elderly, or those who become quickly dehydrated… or wait too long before seeking medical attention.

Don’t eat anything questionable! It will never be worth it. The mild symptoms are easy enough to deal with like a bout of diarrhea or some mild nausea. But since there are people actually dying more frequently due to the issues that are now commonplace in our country, I would like to emphasize that you should seek professional medical attention if you get sick because things can go south pretty quickly if it’s listeria, salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, clostridium hepatitis or others not mentioned here. 

Most people do not experience severe illness from foodborne pathogens, but if you do, consult your doctor or health practitioner. Some of the serious symptoms to look out for include fever, chills, stiff neck, weakness, discolored stools, yellowing of the skin, jaundice, vomiting, dehydration, bad diarrhea, feeling like you’re going to faint, vertigo, or projectile problems from either end!

Dietary Suggestions.
While medical treatment is not usually needed, the symptoms need to be monitored, and the number one thing you should do is hydrate. Don’t guzzle the whole glassful, because it may trigger vomiting if you’re experiencing that. Instead, take small frequent sips. If you have MARSHMALLOW, that might be an interesting add to your water. 

If vomiting is continuous and severe, it needs more than Pedialyte or Gatorade! Severe vomiting causes weakness and dehydration and requires treatment with IV fluids which is given at local emergency rooms. Many urgent care centers are set up to provide IV hydration too. [caution sign emoji]You don’t need me to tell you this, but if you’re in severe pain or have fever/chills, you need to seek medical attention because it may be Salmonella food poisoning. Keep in mind, this article is intended for self-limiting mild situations. 

Electrolytes such as Pedialyte® or other brands can help you maintain your sodium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and other important minerals that your heart requires. If you can keep foods down then eat very mild or bland foods. Think plain rice, bananas, jars of pureed baby food, canned peaches in syrup, soft bread rolls, mashed potatoes (not green though!) Milk is another bland food that is sometimes recommended, if you can tolerate the dairy.

Avoid citrus, tomato-based sauce and meat which is hard to digest or otherwise irritating to the gastrointestinal system. 


Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications.
The most common medication sold OTC is loperamide (Imodium®) and this is useful for mild diarrhea. Another popular home remedy is Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate. Again, these are used to treat viral gastroenteritis a.k.a. “the stomach flu.” 

A supplement called BPC-157 might be helpful in my opinion. I wrote an ARTICLE about that here. The BPC stands for “body protection compound” and it’s a natural substance in human gastric juice. BPC-157 is highly gut-protective and is thought to help people recover from NSAID gut lining damage. It’s a peptide that strings together 15 amino acids and  I think it might have a place in healing your gut after an episode of food poisoning.

Herbal Teas for Tummy Problems.
The most famous gut-relieving herbs to turn into tea are chamomile and peppermint. You can buy commercially prepared tea bags or make your own.

Ginger is another easy tea to make that helps with nausea and stomach flu symptoms. It is a strong anti-inflammatory. 

Fennel is one of my favorites too. I have an essential oil of this and it is one of those that can be ingested orally. I put a few drops in hot water and sip (you can do the same with Digest Zen). You can buy commercially prepared fennel tea bags too. 

Other Hacks for Comfort and Peace of Mind.
1. Keep a hot pack handy to lay across your abdomen
2. Try a castor oil pack (see my ARTICLE about this)
3. Try cramp bark herb (see my ARTICLE about this)
4. Keep a little trash can nearby in case you have to throw up and are too weak to get to the bathroom
5. Consider Digest-Zen – it’s a consumable essential oil blend

The past week alone has been devastating for the food industry and you should be very careful about what you buy, and where you buy it. Wash your food properly, handle it safely and do not eat it if it is questionable. Don’t take chances especially with older folks or kids who are especially vulnerable to dehydration. 

I hope today’s article was useful in enlightening you, and I’ve written it with the utmost care so that you can be careful yourself, and know what to do if you’re feeling a little down. It’s worrisome what’s going on. Remember, if you have severe symptoms, please seek medical attention. Nothing in this article is meant to replace a qualified physician if you are experiencing symptoms of food-borne illness. You can keep track of food (and drug) recalls by visiting the FDA’s WEBSITE.

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