Have you ever had food poisoning? What did you do, besides get ill?
I got a call last week from a guy named Dave, a self-described amputee veteran who said he suffered a mondo bout of food poisoning after eating a lobster at a restaurant. He said his ordeal lasted two weeks, including a stint in the hospital.
Dave said he's not allergic to shell fish. Dave said he's never had a violently ill reaction to any seafood. Dave said he was looking forward to his lobster; his parents had driven him from Orting to Tacoma for lunch.
Dave said the lobster was soft and soupy, like an oyster in June. Dave said he "slurped it down." Dave said he barely made it to the restaurant's restroom. Dave said he spent a couple of days in the hospital, where, he said, doctors told him he had food poisoning.
Proving food poisoning is tricky. Salmonella is the most common type of food poisoning; it can take 24 to 72 hours before symptoms become apparent. Incubation times for other food-borne bacteria vary. Short of an epidemic, it's tough to peg food-poisoning sources.
So why did Dave call me? He'd already called the restaurant and its corporate 800 number.
"I'd like a damn written apology," Dave said. "I just want something for the two weeks I wanted to die. Gimme a couple of grand. Make it happen."
Dave sounded like an angry man. I can appreciate that. Here's what I told Dave:
I'm not the health department, and there's a bunch of lawyers in the phone book who can help you with that couple of grand.
If you want to report food poisoning, call the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: 253-798-6500. They've got the ability to inspect and shut down kitchens.
And call when the illness occurs, not a month later.
Good luck, and safe dining.