How long does it take bad food to affect your system?

I’ve had a few bouts of The Big D lately and I think I have the source identified as a bottle of salsa verde.

If that is the source, I’m feeling the affects in anywhere from 2 to 6 hours later. Is that time frame reasonable?

Short answer, yes that’s reasonable. Depending on the food item it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to start feeling the effects. Bad mayo is apparently pretty quick in letting itself be known.

Depends on how spoiled the food is, I think.

When I was a kid at summer camp, we got Burger King for lunch as a special treat once. I washed down my burger and fries with two or three half-pint containers of milk (supplied by the camp–not Burger King). It turned out that the milk I drank had been left out for a while before being re-refrigerated.

About 30 minutes after lunch, I was walking along a trail and abruptly threw up everything in my stomach. I kept retching until it was just dry heaves. As you can tell, I’ve never forgotten this incident, even more than 20 years later.

Sorry to hijack, but I didn’t think milk was dangerous as far as spoilage goes – if you leave it out, it goes sour but I didn’t think it would actually make you sick. If you could happily drink it without noticing anything amiss then it couldn’t have been very sour anyway.

Or does pasteurisation allow nasty pathogenic bacteria to grow at the expense of the natural souring bacteria?

Reaction to Salmonella and other common food poisoning can kick in within 6-72 hours. This can make it hard to pin point exactly what caused it as few of use would think back to something we had eater three days ago. It is likely something else would be blamed.

Could be the salsa, could be something from yesterday or the day before that.

Didn’t I once read, somewhere on the Dope, that “Chinese restaurant syndrome”–in which rice that has been left on a hot table for too long grows a certain organism–can actually make you begin to vomit before you can take a second bite?