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What's Your Ratio?

What's your ratio of having some ill effect from eating at restaurants or food vendors while home or traveling?  My ratio stands about the same for home and travel.  I'm at about 50% or 1 in 2 meals that cause me gastrointestinal issues.  Am I hypersensitive?  Maybe...but I've really become jaded about eating anywhere where someone else, someone that I cannot see, is preparing my meal.  Have  you even taken a course in food safety?  Have you ever simply watched as a waiter grips your glass with his/her fingertips right on the place where you just sipped?  How about watching a cashier sneeze, cup it with a hand, wipe that hand on a pant leg, then use the register with that hand...and pick up a cup that's about to hold your ticking time bomb and write on it?  "Grande doubled over chocolate latte with extra foam" Argh.  I'm felling ill thinking about it.  Pay attention and CALL PEOPLE ON IT when they do it!  "New cup please, that one has your DNA on it."

You know most of the issues we get about 2 hours after eating at a restaurant are NOT "food poisoning" caused by the food itself.  These are human transfered issues that I don't want to think about. Check some of them out here.

I once met a business traveler who told me, "You know, I like to eat light, you know...salads...but I don't dare eat them on the road because there's so many possibilities for contamination".   I've had trouble eating them since.  Honestly, I think fast food may be the best possible choice.  It's likely that the ingredients are turned over rapidly and that the people are at least trained in the ways of food safety, and that hot grease kills.  I don't know...just a theory.

There was a great piece in the WSJ discussing this topic that sparked this post and it honestly had me rolling on the floor with laughter, mainly because I had suppressed the tears from my past experiences.  Read the article if you want a good laugh...I think it's a freebie forever.  Here's an excellent quote that will expose you to the flavor of this delicacy,

Mr. Stender once bought a sandwich at the Santiago, Chile, airport before flying to Lima, Peru. When he arrived, he could barely stand up. He was forced to let his vice president do all the talking during client visits and nod a lot. "There was a devil in my stomach," he says.

That diablo is known variously as Montezuma's Revenge, Delhi Belly, Hong Kong Dog, the Aztec Two-Step, or the Trotskies. In a global economy, toxin-wielding bacteria and dodgy mayonnaise happen everywhere.

I'm still in tears over this article...and praying that I don't have an episode of the "Aztec Two-Step" any time soon. God willing.

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Will Herman


I want to thank you for this illuminating and downright disgusting post. As a result of this article, I'm likely to limit food consumption to items I've actually seen being cooked served on dishes I've washed myself. "Thank you, no, I'll carry my food back to my table myself - by the way, when was the last time you sanitized your hands . . . " ;-)

Reading this has almost done as much for my dieting as when my wife (a trained professional chef) spent 6 months in a program on food safety. Tales of the various kinds of viruses transmitted in food became common in our house. Funny enough, mostly told around dinner time. I don't think we ate anything short of well-done for a year.

Thanks for the pointer to the article.

Doug Mitchell

Anytime Will :)
6 months on food safety is amazing considering the few hours or so that people get in the typical restaurant/serving world. I rarely have issues at higher end restaurants, even with a medium rare steak. With 2 little kids and a bout of rotavirus when they were little, I'm hyper aware of what can happen when sanitation suffers.

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