48 Million People Get Food Poisoning Every Year

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Restaurant Report: Website alerts health departments to sickness reports

Restaurant Report: Website alerts health departments to sickness

                                                 

Chipotle executives say a sick employee is what led to 135 customers contracting norovirus from eating at their Sterling restaurant last week. That outbreak was caught quickly.  But food borne illness in restaurants happens more often than you might think because it's rarely reported.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate 48 million people suffer from food borne illness each year from all sources, restaurants, stores, and home cooked food, but only a few thousand cases are reported and confirmed. 

A website called Iwaspoisoned.com is working to change that. It says it aims to alert health departments, restaurants and consumers about food borne illness to prevent more people from getting sick. 

In fact, founder Patrick Quade says the site was the first to detect the original norovirus outbreak at Chipotle restaurants two years ago. Richmond resident Linda Morris knows the pain of food borne illness all too well. She says she was sick for three days last week after ordering take-out from a local restaurant.  

"My stomach was hurting so badly that I thought I was going to die," Morris said.

She reported it to the Health Department, which is now investigating. NBC12 isn't naming the restaurant where Morris ordered her food because the source of her illness has not yet been confirmed. But most people don't bother or don't know to notify the Health Department or the restaurant they suspect is the source.  

That’s why Quade started Iwaspoisoned.com.

"It made sense to me. If there was a place people could report they got sick, and for instance, you could see 50 people also got sick after eating there, that would be useful information," said Quade. 

Quade says the site alerts health departments, and partners with restaurants that want to be notified, too. Consumers can look up reports on the site, and sign up to receive email alerts about illness reports. We asked Quade how they make sure reports aren't incorrect, or even fake. 

"On a technical back-end review, it looks at a whole bunch of factors, including the time stamps, the IP address, the location, to get a sense of whether this is actually authentic," he said. "Then we read the report and the goal is to weed out inauthentic or malicious or off-topic reports."

Quade says many state and local health departments have signed up for their alerts, including the Virginia Department of Health.

"I think it's useful to have a site like that going on," said Allen Knapp, director of the Office of Environmental Health Services for the Virginia Department of Health.  "I think of it as sort of the value of crowdsourcing as a sentinel of problems out there."

But Knapp urges consumers to report cases directly to the Health Department through its own site, My Meal Detective, so officials can begin investigating right away. 

"We collect a little more information.  Particularly we collect some more specific communication about times, dates, and names of people," said Knapp.

The sooner investigators can pinpoint the source of food poisoning, Knapp says, the sooner they can stop the spread. That's why Morris says she called the Health Department right away.

"I wouldn't wish anyone to go through what I went through," said Morris.

Recent Interesting Reports

Taco Cabana, East Freeway, Houston, TX, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Fever Nausea Vomiting
“Monday night 7-29-19, bout 10 :15-10:30pm, ordered flautas w 2 sides of guacamole. Chills started bout 3am, followed by diarrhea, nausea, dizzy and horrible cramps. Its Thursday and I'm still feeling it. Missed 3 days work. I'm trying to move around now but still dizzy, now dehydrated. This is a... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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|1 person found this review helpful

Burger King @ Archer Road, Gainesville, FL, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Nausea
“Tried one of their crispy tacos. Hard to call this thing a taco; for $1 you get a smear of refried bean paste, lettuce, tomato, and a pre-made sauce with plenty of MSG that looks like a dirty diaper. Shell was extremely brittle like it'd been under heat lamp for... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Wendy's, Michigan, USA

Report Type: Food Safety
“just wanted to bring to your attention that one of your restaurants has served undercooked meat, pictured below. With how busy it was and how backed up they were, it's quite possible there may have been more”
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Baseline Road, Little Rock, AR, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Nausea
“We had a 12 piece and the chicken wasn’t cooked well we didn’t notice until after I had ate the first wing the asst manager was no help and really acted like he didn’t give a dang he offered us a 12 pence replacement. Why would I want a replacement... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Wendy's, 95 Hwy 17 S, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582, USA

Report Type: Food Safety
“was served raw chicken tonight. Not cooked at all! Was told bring back for refund....RAW CHICKEN! After going through drive through 2x with wrong order. No apology, no concern. Terrible food and service”
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Alaska Airlines - Portland, OR, Northeast Airport Way, Portland, OR, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Fever Nausea Vomiting
“Ate a chicken sandwich on the plane, around 6pm on Friday the 9th of August 2019.

Once I got to the hotel I wasn’t feeling great, couldn’t eat dinner. Woke up at 5am and spent the rest of the night vomiting.

We were here to scatter my wife’s grandparents ashes.... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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IHOP, Southwest Military Drive, San Antonio, TX, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea
“On July 21st of this year, my grandchildren and I ate there. I had a burger, btw they should stick to pancakes. The burger made me ill that evening and into the next morning with diarrhea. Thank God my babies did not have a burger.”
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Burger King, U.S. 160, Kayenta, AZ, USA

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Diarrhea Fever Nausea Vomiting
“We are a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) visiting USA, we live in France. We went to this place the 11 of August around 2PM and 3 of us were sick between 4 and 10 hours later. We had fries with chicken stripes, a whopper with cheese,... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Mount Salem Ice Cream Shop, Mount Salem Road, Montego Bay, Saint James, Jamaica

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Nausea
“On the morning of Monday August 19th, 2008 I purchased a small breakfast if food (cooked green bananas, yellow yam, cooked dumplings with codfish, cabbage and calaloo). I refrigerated the breakfast with the intention of having it for dinner. Shortly after consuming about half of the food, I immediately felt... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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Meliá Punta Cana Beach Resort - Adults Only - All Inclusive, Avenida Barceló, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Report Type: Food Poisoning
Symptoms: Nausea
“Experienced a night of sleep with fever like symptoms (chills, strange dreams, frequent waking), next day had bad headache, fatigue, nausea, and stomach cramps. Flew home that day. Have had the same symptoms for past 4 days., My son got sick vomiting and diarrhea on third day and stayed sick... See More
Reported By Iwaspoisoned.com User
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