Stomach Disinfectant

If I realize that I have eaten something that is contaminated, are there foods I can eat to possibly mitigate the contamination? E.g. I ate something but then I realize it was left outside for a few days, and quite possibly has bacteria on it. Could drinking massive amounts of lemon juice help? What about vinegar? I know I should probably stay away from baking soda, right?

Lemon juice and vinegar are both less acidic than stomach acid, so they would counteract the natural acidity of the stomach, if not to the degree that baking soda would. Unless you take concentrated acetic acid (vinegar is around 5%), but the concentration would have to be higher than stomach acid and would burn your mouth/throat. Also, bacteria produce toxins that aren’t neutralized by acid; in many cases of food poisoning, it is the toxins that make you sick, not the bacteria.


Yes, they are called emetics: substances designed to make you vomit. Ipecac is one of the most commonly available and can be obtained from any pharmacy.

You are far, far, far better off purging the contaminated material form the stomach as fast as possible than you are trying to sterilise it in situ.

I’d say good ole’ H2O. That is what is usually advised to consume when something poisonous has been eaten or swallowed.

What does water do? I’m talking more of bacterial contamination than ingesting straight-up poison.

As Blake writes. You don’t want to mess about, Ipecac is the single best bet. Your body is going to do this anyway, from one end, if not both, but the sooner you get it out the better. A foetid morsel is going to be laden with a load of bacteria vastly greater than any feeble attempt at home grown sterilisation is going to manage.

Water is only advised if the material is caustic/acid/strong detergent. That’s because stuff like that burns the throat on the way up, so if you induce vomiting you can cause life threatening injuries. A common treatment for such substances is to dilute with water.

But that is not what is *usually *advised. It’s a fairly minor subset of poisons. In the case of contaminated food, givng water can make the problem worse, since it flushes the problem from the stomach into the intestine. That’s a two-fold problem because it both reduces the amount of time spent in the sterilising environment of the stomach and moves it from the stomach, where it can’t do much harm, to the intestine, where it can do a lot of harm.

In short, giving water in the case of swallowing putrid food is probably the worst thing you can do. You’re much better off doing nothing at all.

If that’s a serious concern you could try kaolin, once again available at most pharmacies. But after purging. Getting rid of much contaminant as possible as fast as possible is the best course.

Ignorance fought.

how about taking activated carbon?

Activated charcoal, like mentioned, and edible clays like Pascalite or Redmond Clay are probably the best “natural” remedies.

Throwing it up is still your best bet, believe it.

IceQube, please report back, with video if possible.

There’re two different topics here.

In some poisonings, stuff like activated charcoal may have a benefit, depending on the substance. It won’t do anything if the contamination is bacterial.

While I suppose there may be a role in inducing vomiting after eating food you know or suspect is contaminated, that’s a relatively rare situation. It’s worth a shot, I guess. Usually the way you find out is by getting sick or by finding out that someone else who also ate the food is getting sick. The very earliest symptoms of food poisoning show up is 6 hours, and most don’t show symptoms for a day or two after the meal.

If you have in fact eaten or drunk poison (or, more likely, your child has), ipecac is no longer recommended (warning: PDF) by poison control centres or doctors. It doesn’t save lives, it can be abused by those with eating disorders, and it can prevent effective oral treatment (e.g. by activated charcoal). Call Poison Control, and they’ll give you the best advice.