I ate a fast food burger and it made me sick a few hours later: doubtful

Dallas Morning News columnist James Ragland tried to raise awareness of foodborne illness yesterday but instead perpetuated some of the worst myths — that barfing is caused by the last food eaten and that fast-food burger joints are largely to blame.

Ragland writes that on Monday,

"I decided to swing through a popular fast-food restaurant to grab a burger, fries and a cold drink.

Hours later, the burger grabbed back. My stomach tightened. A chill fell over me. Then sweat.

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know what happened next.

One recurring thought crossed my mind as my wife patiently dabbed a cold damp towel across my forehead: "Go into the kitchen, fetch the solid cast-iron skillet and whack me over the head with it!"

By week’s end, I was still struggling to get back to full strength, relying mostly on saltines and Gatorade."

Foodborne illness sucks for anyone, and Ragland deserves credit for reporting on the topic and telling people how to report foodborne illness in Dallas. However, except for a few toxins, it’s not the last meal that made someone like Ragland sick, and fast-food joints — especially the popular ones — have fairly good food safety systems; they have too, with so many outlets and so many people looking to make a fast buck. Incubation times for most foodborne ailments can be found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Bad Bug Book at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/app2.html.

If you think food made you sick, here’s what to do:

• go to the doctor if necessary;

• keep the food, in the fridge or freezer if necessary; and,

• contact your local health department.