What to do if you get Food Poisoning from a Restaurant


First, it may not have been what you ate last night. Many of the most common foodborne illnesses have incubation periods (time between ingestion and symptoms) that can be hours, days or even several weeks.

Incubation Periods for Common Foodborne Pathogen

Pathogen - Incubation Period

Staphlococcus aureus - 1 to 8 hours, typically 2 to 4 hours

Campylobacter - 2 to 7 days, typically 3 to 5 days

E. coli O157:H7 - 1 to 10 days, typically 3 to 4 days

Salmonella - 6 to 72 hours, typically 18 to 36 hours

Shigella - 12 hours to 7 days, typically 1 to 3 days

Hepatitis A - 15 to 50 days, typically 25 to 30 days

Listeria - 3 to 70 days, typically 21 days

Norovirus - 24 to 72 hours, typically 36 hours

  • If you have common symptoms of a foodborne illness – stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea – rehydrate SLOWLY (sips, not gulps), as drinking fluids rapidly can increase vomiting.
  • Do NOT self-treat with anti-diarrheal medications or anti-nausea medications unless advised to do so by a medical provider -- especially if you have bloody diarrhea. Some can slow stool transit or suppress vomiting that can make some kinds of food poisoning worse.
  • Do NOT take antibiotics (your own or anyone else's) unless prescribed by a medical provider, as this can also make some kinds of food poisoning worse.
  • What goes in must come out – if your urine output reflects how much you are drinking, and is light colored and clear, you are probably getting enough fluids. If you stop urinating for longer then a few hours, despite drinking adequate fluids, that can be a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention.

  • If you’re going to go to emergency room, ask about stool testing to identify the bug (pathogen) that is making you ill. If you have a pathogen identified proactively contact local public health department, relating known food exposures for incubation period of known pathogen.