If you eat something that may've gone bad, is there anything you can take to prevent food poisoning

Don’t need answer fast. Assume you eat something and after you eat it you are afraid it had gone bad.

Obviously if your body says vomit, go ahead and vomit. But other than that, can a person do anything to prevent food poisoning from taking hold?

Supposedly people who take pepto bismol while traveling reduce their risk of traveler’s diarrhea by 60%. However that is 2 doses, 4 times a day. I’m not sure if taking it immediately after eating something bad would have the same effect (I’m not sure if some of the benefit of pepto is taking it before eating something infected).

I’m not sure if taking pepto immediately after eating a meal that may have gone bad will help prevent food poisoning the same way taking it 4x a day reduces the risk of traveler’s diarrhea. Who knows.

What about activated charcoal? Soluble fiber (would eating a lot of metamucil bind any bacteria or toxins and help prevent infection)? Would any of that help? Has it been studied?

If you need help sicking it back up, there’s ipecac.

OTOH, you don’t want to vomit too many times, you could tear your esophagus. Been there, done that.

Some people swear by activated charcoal tablets. Supposedly taking one right when you start feeling queasy can make you feel better. I’ve never taken it to prevent sickness, but it does seem to help with gas and bloating.

Maybe a highly alcoholic beverage and hope the alcohol kills germs in your stomach. Or raw honey, a natural antibiotic.

Also, isn’t it bad to suppress diarrhea, since the purpose of diarrhea is to flush toxins from your body, and suppressing it it means toxins are retained in your system?

No there isn’t. That drug was removed from the market in 2010. Studies indicated it caused far far more harm than it prevented.

I would NOT recommend taking any of the advice offered in this thread thus far. Eating something that has ‘gone bad’ covers such a wide array of possible (but not particularly likely) toxins or exposures or situations that there’s no one solution to such an open ended concern. Milk past its expiration date? A fish taco that tasted funny? Food from a can with weird bulges in it? All probably harmless, but if not, all with completely different mechanisms of pathology. AND completely different treatments if a real problem is present.

Best bet: If you feel like vomiting, don’t fight it, throw up. Otherwise rest, drink some clear fluids to stay hydrated, and wait to see what happens. If significant untoward symptoms occur, seek medical help. If you find you’ve eaten food that was found to be tainted by public health authorities, contact them to see what you should do.

Now does that include the advice you had just given to not take any of the advice? If so then the thread does not need a second MD chiming in cause it’s already got a pair-o-docs …

Anyway, yeah what QtM says.

Charcoal tablets WILL can save you from being poisoned by bad seafood, (its right in the literature usually!), are widely available, even in the third world, and are somewhat harmless if you’re wrong about the bad taco. (Though they will absorb any other meds you’re taking!)

Also they have have one very predictable result. (Black poop!)

Activated charcoal is only indicated for neurotoxic or amnestic seafood poisoning (absorbing the domoic and okadaic acids and the brevetoxins as it does), not for the paralytic or diarrheic types (the most common by far). Scombroid poisoning needs, antihistamines ASAP, and Ciguatera fish poisoning has no real cures beyond supportive care.

I still advocate avoiding charcoal or other self treatment beyond fluids and rest. As do authorities on the topic, who recommend:

I specifically withheld my own advice until after I said “thus far”. All my patients are ‘jailhouse lawyers’, after all. :wink:

Qadgop, while we have you here, I mentioned ipecac because I had seen it in Walmart recently. It’s in pill form, made in America, blah, blah. What gives?

ETA: Walmart listing

ALSO: By far, most cases of food poisoning are caused by food that tastes perfectly fine on its way in.

First they taint my food, then I gotta call them for advice? Talk about job security… :stuck_out_tongue:


It’s homeopathic. There ain’t a molecule of actual IPECAC in it.

Well, blow me down. Thanks.


And here I thought I was safe from jailhouse lawyers in this thread . . .

You’ll notice the “30X” line in the title which means it homeopathic and the FDA doesn’t have anything to do with it. Also, instead of inducing vomiting like the Syrup of Ipecac we all grew up with, this actually claims to reduce vomiting (and the directions say to take it 4 times per day).

It also states that it “aids in stopping nosebleeds or bleeding from any part of the body.”

So, yeah, don’t take this. At best it’ll do nothing, at worst it’ll give you a false sense of security while the poison gets further into your system.

NEVER take activated charcoal within 4 hours of medications, because the charcoal will adsorb them and prevent your body from absorbing them.

A pharmacist I used to work with said that when she worked at a grocery store, some kids brought a bottle of ipecac to the counter and asked her, “Is it really true that this stuff will make you puke?” and she replied, “YES!” They didn’t believe her (someone else had to check them out because she refused to do it) and they came back the next day and said they had indeed discovered the hard way that she was right. :smack:

The vomiting it produces is sometimes so violent that even bulimics refused to use it, and the nature of swallowed poison is such that if you’re supposed to throw it up, you will anyway. That’s what the 5HT3 receptor is for.

So now how are we supposed to determine who gets the last piece of pie?Family Guy scene not for the squeamish