In-Flight Food Poisoning: Is There Anything You Can Do?

Filed Under: Travel

As some of you may remember, last year Sam F. wrote a post about American’s Business Extra program, which is their excellent business rewards program. Now Sam is back to share his experience dealing with in-flight food poisoning. Shockingly this is something I’ve never dealt with firsthand, so I was especially interested to read about this, and am curious to hear from those of you who have dealt with it as well.

Lucky’s April post, “Tips For Going Number Two On A Plane With Grace,” and its amazing comments section got me thinking a related taboo subject: in-flight food poisoning.

In 2016, I had the misfortune of getting food poisoning in-flight. Twice. The first episode was in January in Emirates first class from Dubai to London. The second was in November, flying Etihad business class from Abu Dhabi to New York.

As has become customary in OMAAT posts, I’ll preface this by acknowledging that I had the luxury of traveling in premium cabins on these flights. I have no doubt that being curled up in a lifeless ball would have been even more unpleasant in an economy lavatory than in what became my private Emirates A380 shower suite.

The purpose of this post is two-fold:

  1. Bring the subject of in-flight food poisoning out of the shadows
  2. Share practical coping strategies

The Emiratis Are Trying to Kill Me

I flew 80 legs and over 150K “butt in seat” miles in 2016. A grand total of two of those flights departed the UAE and both times I got horribly, violently ill.

While I cannot pinpoint exactly what made me sick, I believe in both cases it was from food consumed in the lounge pre-flight.

Round 1 in Emirates first class from Dubai to London was the more severe episode. During the 7-hour flight, I spent approximately 4 hours in a shower suite with the proverbial “coming out of both ends” every 15-20 minutes. I had neither the strength nor courage to return to my seat for fear of not making it back to the lavatory in time when the next wave hit.

Instead, I acquainted myself with the heated floor of the shower suite, delirious and dangerously dehydrated, alternating between chills and profuse sweating, unsure of when it would all be over. While I planned on informing the crew that I would need an ambulance on arrival, about 30 minutes prior to landing I was able to compose myself enough that I felt I could get to the hospital on my own (and without causing a scene).

The crew did what they could, which is exactly zilch. They checked on me on occasion but they could not offer any remedy. Ultimately, this was a dragon I had to ride solo.

Fast-forward 10 months to round 2 in Etihad business class from Abu Dhabi to New York, which was relatively less severe. The bouts of “coming out of both ends” were fewer and farther between, which allowed me to return to the comfort of my seat where my wife kept a watchful eye. And my old friends chills, sweats, and aches made sure I was never lonely.

The highlight of this flight came during my first visit to the lavatory. I woke up approximately 5 hours into the red-eye flight and immediately recognized the symptoms. I nudged my wife and told her I would be gone for a while, grabbed an airsickness bag, and headed for the handicap lavatory, which I knew would be more spacious.

Thirty minutes later, after experiencing the carnage of my body waging war against itself, I was ready to return to my seat. As I prepared to do so, I realized that the crew had not restocked the toilet paper. Or the tissues. Or the paper towels. There was not a scrap of any paper product that I could use to clean myself up.

I MacGyvered that situation but will spare you the details.

Lesson Learned

After my first dalliance with in-flight food poisoning, I assumed it was a once-in-a-lifetime event and that I had now paid my dues. After the second occurrence, I decided that leaving it to fate might not be my best strategy. So I started researching food poisoning remedies and formulated a plan for how to deal with it in-flight should it ever happen again.

The two products I found to be most effective in combating the causes and symptoms of food poisoning are activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar. Both are available in pill form and over the counter (or Amazon), making them ideal for travel.

Activated charcoal works by binding with the toxins in your body, and is commonly used in hospitals to treat drug overdoses. Apple cider vinegar works by coating the gastrointestinal lining and killing bacteria, providing near instant relief.

A few months ago I once again got sick with a food-borne illness. While I was fortunate to be in a hotel room and not on a plane, the combination of activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar worked wonders and helped me to start feeling better within half an hour. It is a combination that now I swear by and travel with at all times.

Not everyone metabolizes activated charcoal and cider vinegar the same way so your mileage may vary. The moral of the story is figure out now what works for you, and bring it with you whenever you travel. Hopefully you’ll never need it in the air, but if you do, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you came prepared.

And even if you never get food poisoning on a plane, chances are a travel companion or someone else on the plane will. And when they do, you’ll be there to lend a helping hand.

The main purpose of this post is to share strategies and learn from each other’s experiences.

Have you ever had food poisoning on a plane? Do you have a go-to remedy when traveling?

  1. Sounds scary story, Ben! I got food poison myself on Qatar Airways in Business class from LAX to DOH back in April. I became real ill and threw up several times on plane. It was NOT fun experience – actually it did ruin my holiday in Bangkok. I went straight to clinic and got myself taken care of then I wrote letter to Qatar Airways about this horrible experience. They deny and refused to compensation for the medical expenses and disarray my journey to Thailand. I wonder did Etihad and Emirates compensate you?

  2. I’ve had two instances of what I think was food poisoning — one just a few weeks go on my LATAM flight from Easter Island to Santiago (as part of that great MEX-IPC biz class deal) and another on an Oman Air biz flight from Zanzibar to Muscat to Milan. Both instances probably had to do with eating shellfish before getting on the flight and it’s absolutely miserable having to get up and use the restroom constantly (especially on the LATAM flight where I sat at the windows for the views up from Easter Island but having to walk over a stranger every time since LATAMs 787 doesn’t have direct aisle access. Bananas and mint usually help calm down the stomach but I gotta say, the plane is the worst place for these kinds of things to hit you.

  3. @ Ben

    It was Sam’s story.

    Why did you not claim on your travel insurance, rather than argue the toss with an airline (which with the best will in the world wouldn’t know whether they were responsible or not)?

    @ ucipass

    And that’s why antibiotics are now on the verge of being defeated by superbugs which, in turn, threaten to kill us all – because people overuse and abuse them. The way the body reacts to food poisoning is straightforward and effective, if not very pleasant to experience. Unless you have some other condition, why would you want to take drugs?

  4. Hi, as a public health official, I just want to point out that your descriptions of activated charcoal/apple cider vinegar are misleading and kind of wrong. Please, please stick to flight descriptions and avoid dispensing medical advice! This kind of misinformation is really quite harmful and actually really complicates my job and my ability to educate the public. If this worked for you, great! But unless you can provide some scientific studies to back up your claims of how these work, please label them as anecdotal and don’t try to pass them off as medically or scientifically correct.

    @ucipass — please, please, please don’t take antibiotics every time you’re traveling and don’t feel well. Lots of food poisoning cases, especially those picked up while traveling, are caused by VIRUSES, which won’t be touched by antibiotics. Cipro ONLY treats bacterial infections. Over-taking antibiotics is 1) really harmful to your good, healthy bacteria and 2) contributes to the rise in antibiotic resistant organisms.

  5. @ Paul – I didn’t have any travel insurance but I think I should get one for my next trip with Qatar this fall. Wish me the luck! 😉 But at least, I survived!

  6. Had food poisioning earlier this year on a British Airways flight from London to Shanghai. Didn’t eat anything especially out of the ordinary, but there was no question that it was the in-flight food rather than anything in the lounge, though that’s impossible to prove obviously.

    Seriously unpleasant experience that I wouldn’t want to put my worst enemy through. An aeroplane toilet is really not a great place to get ill.

  7. This (along with dengue fever and malaria) is one of my worst travel fears. I got sick once in NY (I think from lox at a famous deli..) and spent the entire night throwing up, shivering, aching, and crying at a friend’s bathroom.

    Do you think your illnesses were from seafood consumption (in the lounge)??

    Do you take the pills as soon as you recognize the symptoms coming on?? (I’ve been researching food-related remedies for our upcoming travels to Europe and SEA.. I have such a sensitive stomach I’m pretty sure I’ll need to be prepared for this…)

  8. @ ucipass

    I double what Paul said. You should never ever simply take an antibiotic because you think you’re sick. Unless you are pregnant, I’d really question a doctor that would prescribe such prophylactic cipro (just in case you get food poisoning).

    Really, for food poisoning you are much better off treating the symptoms unless it is so bad you’re sent to the hospital. I would recommend never traveling without some basics like bismuth (petop bismal) or loperamide (imodium) — writing down the “real” name can help at pharmacies abroad that don’t have the same brands we do. A strong antihistamine like benadryl is also a good idea, but obviously would do nothing for food poisoning.

  9. OMG this is my worst nightmare. I worry about just having a normal stomach ache on a plane. I’ve had food poisoning at home and can’t imagine having it on a plane. If I felt it coming on I’d have to miss the flight.

    I always carry Imodium with me which is an anti-diarrheal

  10. ‘combination of activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar’

    -definitely not peer reviewed.

    On a more serious note, gastroenteritis on a plane would be horrible, but antibiotics likely won’t help (especially within the flight time – even if it is bacterial), and the symptoms, while unpleasant for sure, are natural. If I’m ever struck with this mid-flight I hope it’s in an empty F cabin…

  11. Food poidoning ? When I travel I avoid salads, sea food ! and tap water.

    God forbid Sushi, a no-no. I can have these at home.
    My Motto: Mr Andrew “Bizarre” Zimmerman has s team ready to evacuate him, I dont

    Most airplane food is treated ahead to avoid bacteria that is why it tastes mediocre, regarless to class. So it Sounds like a meal prior to flight

    Cipro can have serious muscular side effect Careful with it. Buy anti amaebal profilaxis, easily found Falmonox is a good brand. Ask your doctor.

  12. For diarreah try a prescription: Lomotil or similar ingredients. Over the counter is mild

    That one Stops diarreah within minutes. But sometimes it is better to allow the body to clean itself, as bad as it may be.

    Stock up, I travel with a mini pharmacy lol!

  13. Apple cider vinegar as a panacea? I quit Facebook so I wouldn’t have to read that hipster nonsense anymore. Pepto coats my stomach better than some duious home remedy.

    When I get food poisoning I try to buy Pedialyte or make my own basic oral rehydration solution using~1L water, 0.5 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp sugar.

  14. I had the misfortune of a nasty bout of food poisoning early into a YVR-HKG flight. Half of the flight was literally spent in the loo, the other half back at my J seat, barfing into a trash bag. As bad as I felt, I couldn’t imagine the horror for my seat mates having to watch, listen and smell me repeatedly get sick. FAs found a doctor who gave me regular cocktails of club soda and sugar to keep my hydrated and I spent several hours post flight hooked up to an IV at a clinic at HKG.

    I have no idea what I ate that caused this, but I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy.

  15. My wife had a severe headache after a long flight while at FRA LH First Class Terminal, and they did not even have an aspiring or anything for headache.

    At least for a first class cabin or lounge, they should have some basic over the counter remedies such as for headache, upset stomach, etc, in my opinion. But they don’t.

    This is a small thing costing very little, that premium airline lounges, cabins, or hotels can easily improve.

  16. You should change the byline so it reflects the actual author. Given the biographical details presented — not to mention the writing style! — it’s obvious this wasn’t written by Lucky, but by one of his staff.

  17. Activated charcoal doesn’t bind with “toxins” in your body, it binds with nearly everything. Which is why it’s ridiculous for people to be drinking activated charcoal whatever for “detox” diets. It’s like saying chemo only kills cancer, when in reality it kills everything. That being said, it might work for food poisoning but it’s not good for generally healthy people to take. It absorbs vitamins, nutrients, and essential medications just as well as it absorbs drug overdoses.

  18. I’ve never gotten food poisoning on a flight but have actually been treated for food poisoning with antibiotics in a hospital many years ago.

  19. Pedialyte comes in powdered form in individual little packets. So do Preparation H “totables” wipes (no medicine, just unscented wet clean). I’ve got both in my little travel first aid bag. And if you’re my Japanese step-mom, you also have a portable Toto Travel Washlet in your bag. Seems excessive until about the 10th visit to the toilet and everything in the basement is raw…

  20. Hi Ben. I really enjoy your site and look forward to your posts. Just a point I want to raise. I own a corporate event catering company and Food Posioning is THE WORST case scenario that a client could come to us with as a complaint. Thankfully it hasn’t happened to us… we have rigorous food safety procudures in place that hopefully means it never will.

    I just wanted to highlight that onset times for symptoms for food poisoning range from 2 hours (the main culprit being Staph Aureus) to 5 days and all times in between depending on the bacterium involved. But most onset times are 12-24 hours… so if you are sick on a flight it’s highly likely not be anything you ate on the flight or at the airport.

    Experiencing food poisoning in flight due to a meal consumed in flight or even in lounge before flight is rare. Some people over indulge on holiday with food and drink. I have a medical background and have had cared for people self diagnose themsleves with food poisoning when they have nothing more than a mild stomach upset or a horrific hangover! It literally has to be coming out of both ends as you say! And you if there was a 100 dollar bill on the floor in front of you and didn’t have energy to pick up…. yep that maybe food poisoning!

    It’s understandable for someone to assume and then want to highlight/warn/rant they have been ‘poisoned’ as it’s a horrible thing to have happen to someone. But without a comprehensive root causes analysis investigation and path lab evidence…. caterers will be highly litigious and come out fighting as a FP allegation is a toxic to our business as it is to your body.

  21. This happened to me once when I had a slice of cake from the Marriot in Cairo the night before a morning flight. (I’d been really careful to avoid suspect food the entire week but slipped up at the hotel. I’m amazed this doesn’t happen more often esp on the middle eastern carriers.) It was the worst trip home in economy on a KLM 747 with a Dutchman’s grosshopper knees sticking into into back of my seat. Mostly it was horrible cramping, but it was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been on a plane. I was 14 at the time.

    PS give it a rest with the Antibiotics… The rest of us would like to survive our next infection thank you very much.

  22. Got food poisoning my first time flying longhaul F. (It was UA, so don’t feel too bad for me about the ruined experience. Based on onset of symptoms it wasn’t be the plane food- could’ve been lounge food or contracted earlier.) Couldn’t keep anything down, not even bread. FAs offered me some alkaseltzer which just made it worse. Was so disoriented on arrival I left my passport on the hotel bus. Luckily it was a country where people wouldn’t steal it.

    Not even my craziest food poisoning story, but certainly stuck on an airplane you do feel extra helpless.

  23. I’ve never had the misfortune on a plane.

    And the period from ingestion of the bacteria to symptoms appearing can be many days – I think it’s up to 10 days for campylobacter. So sometimes it’s just your bad luck to be on an aircraft when the food poisoning symptoms strike.

    That said avoiding poorly handled food is key to staying well. Having worked in airline catering halls it would be hard to believe anything would go wrong from there.

    I am very careful in lounges where the food is self service – especially when there are children handling/mishandling the food. Breathing over food or touching foods service utensils (even if metal) are things that can communicate bacteria. Similar to how you pick up a cold virus…..

    Making sure food does not enter the danger zone where bacteria multiplies is also important. Any thing left sitting above 4 degrees C is getting dicey. Reheating food to the right temperature (well above 70C) is critical to kill bacteria as well –

  24. got deathly ill on a flight 3-4 hour after eating some fish..that did not taste well did not eat it all…got it together to go thru customs and immigration then had to stop at every rest stop on the way to my destination.a rough few days!!

  25. My partner and I both got what we think was good poisoning during a BA J TXL-LCY flight – from street food not from any food served on board.
    Fun fact – when airplane sick bags get completely full of vomit they easily split.
    I ended up getting vomit on my shoes on the seat and on the floor. Pretty sure it was the last flight of the night for that plane because it would have needed a deep clean during the turnaround otherwise. I apologised profusely to the crew who were actually great – very sympathetic and helpful. Thank God it was a short flight and I live near LCY.
    Both of us crawled immediately into bed curled in a ball, shaking, shivering and crying and honestly wondering if we were dying. I echo others worst enemy comments.
    Do not underestimate how bad food poisoning is – I don’t think I’ve ever experienced pain that severe before.

  26. No evidence on EBM supports that activated charcoal is even helpful in food poisoning neither gastroenteritis! take loperamide and dompy as symptomatic treatment.

  27. I had food poisoning on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Bangkok. The origin of the infection was unclear. The crew was largely inattentive. At one point a flight attendant tossed me a handful of tissues and extra air sick bags, but that’s about it. I was flying in Business but my husband commandeered a First Class loo for me when it became obvious I needed to take up residence. They did arrange for a wheelchair to meet the flight and upon arrival I spent 24 hours in bed at our hotel. I recommend traveling with packets of rehydration salts. They really do save the day in any number of situations, and are a lot easier to use than trying to mix up a sugar/salt solution. My travel doc tells me Cipro should be reserved for bloody diarrhea with a fever, not for the usual spewing from both ends – no matter how terrible I feel.

  28. Critical care nurse here – agreeing with the other medical people about the charcoal/vinegar/antibiotic comments. You can’t know if something is bacterial until you culture it in a lab and it’s not worth the risk of developing resistant bugs to take antibiotics at the first sign of illness. Keep some Imodium, Gas-X, and/or Pepto on hand for digestive problems!

  29. Emirates coming back from Capetown to New York (Business/First Class) I had food poisoning, I believe from the food I had on segment of Capetown to Dubai. I wrote an extensive letter and sent in my doctor note with reasoning of food poisoning because I had flew Emirates throughout and with a 10 hr layover it was in Emirates lounge as well as we didnt go anywhere. Emirates did credit me 75,000 miles but they admitted no guilt just a rep called me and said how sorry they were hear of me being ill and that as a courtesy I will see a 75k added miles to my account … ( i dont knw if it had to do with me being a platinum for past 4 yrs ) this was back in 2014 !!!

  30. Hoo boy! This brought back some bad memories…

    My colleague and I had croque monsieurs at a sidewalk cafe in Paris a few hours before taking a flight to Barcelona. It hit me before takeoff, and I was on the throne, unable to move, while a flight attendant knocked on the door of the loo insisting that I return to my seat. I didn’t and was thinking a seat belt would be a useful accessory. My colleague made it through the flight and got sick in the taxi on the way to our hotel.

    I had some bad food either in Hong Kong or on the subsequent Pan Am flight to Tokyo — it hit a couple of hours after I got to my hotel. The hotel doctor gave me at least a half-dozen different blister packs of tablets, none of which I could identify but which tamed down the eruptions enough for me to fly home. I was still visiting the loo frequently, and, when I got to the airport, I learned that Pan Am had bumped me from my pre-reserved aisle seat to a window! Oh, noooo! I demanded that my former seat be restored, which it was, and I spent the flight trekking back and forth.

    I took a taxi from LAX to an ER, and after I handed the ER doctor the collection of medications I’d been given in Tokyo, he responded that the Japanese doctor apparently had no idea what was wrong and gave me everything but the kitchen sink. We went through the Merck Manual together, came up with a possible diagnosis, and he treated me for that.

    Getting sick while traveling is bad enough, but when one is ill in mid-flight, it’s about as miserable as it gets.

  31. I can almost certainly tell you what caused this.
    Lounge. Shower. You brushing your teeth. Rinsing with tap water.
    Will get you every time.

  32. I travel like 5 to 6 long haul flights a year and all through the Gulf i.e. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha and have been doing it since the last 20 years. I have never experienced any food poisoning either in the Business Class lounges or on board. I think this may have something to do with people being more sensitive to food that they are not accustomed to or food that is heavy on spices or pepper etc.

  33. I’d like to reiterate what Matt says: “But most onset times are 12–24 hours.” I took a food safety course a few years ago, and it was obvious from that, that most people wrongly attribute the cause of their food poisoning.

  34. Thank you @Vinod – I was getting worried that this had become a pattern in Emirati airlines. Ive travelled LHR-DXB and didnt get sick, and still in general I hope this is a very rare happening.

    Ive gotten food poisoning once in my life while eating a samosa at a tube station in London. Horrible experience, getting up to use the loo every 5 minutes. Thankfully it lasted for 24-48 hours and then it was gone. Was so weak I fainted too, cant imagine going through this on a plane.

  35. BKK to LHR.

    Thai F.

    Never forget it.

    My usual once a year food poisoning (reminds me I am overdue) popped up on this flight. Think it was the food in the air. In my experience I get food poisoning within 2-4 hours after eating something, and I can feel it come on, usual same symptoms, upset stomach, light headed, then nauseous.

    Of course this being Thai F I had indulged in the Dom, caviar, probably some JW Blue, the whole bit.

    Unlike my usual food illness I get this was just two or three big trips to the lav to puke, no double ended blowouts, then I was able to curl up on my seat and sleep for a few hours and felt remarkably better. The FA’s were pretty good about it, always waiting outside the lav with a cold wet towel…and a fresh pair of pj’s.

    I always travel with a small flask of electrolyte (get it on amazon), just drop it in water, great for rehydration ( mainly use it for hangover relief ).

    Getting sick on a plane is no fun.

  36. No offense, but your diagnosis of food poisoning is pretty dubious. Everyone likes to blame everything on food poisoning, but just straight up getting infected with an illness, whether bacterial or viral, is far more likely. The only way to reliably diagnose food poisoning is if a large number of people that ate the same food got the same symptoms about the same time. Otherwise you’re just throwing darts at a board. To blame EK/EY catering is simply not supported by the evidence. The fact that it keeps happening again and again (you mentioned three times) to you points toward a weak immune system or perhaps some bad hygiene habit on your part (brushing teeth with tap water was one possibility mentioned upthread).

    I’ve only gotten food poisoning once in my life. It was at a family holiday celebration where someone did not properly cook the chicken in the marinade before grilling it. Everyone that ate the chicken got sick at once with the same symptoms. Those who had not eaten the chicken did not get sick. It was an unpleasant but rare event.

  37. PS
    Don’t think my sympathies aren’t with you. They are. I’ve flown for 1mm+ miles and I vomited on a plane for the first time about 6 months ago. It was an extremely unpleasant experience. It was on a domestic flight with a small lav. Fortunately I was in F and made to the lav (it was occupied minutes before). Unfortunately the door did not close with me kneeling at the toilet. Anyway, my sympathies are definitely with you. However, I encourage you to do a little self-education on the topic before attempting to educate others.

    As doctors have mentioned upthread, charcoal is an extremely dubious remedy as well.

  38. Least thought out piece I’ve read on the best “blog/site.” You (not ben/lucky) emphasize and reiterate half truths. This post is half brained and libelous. Any chance you have a food allergy? I learned later in life (35) that my stomach doesn’t tolerate all but burnt scrambled eggs. That’s
    On me, not the airline. Handle your own sh*t.

  39. This site should be renamed as ODAAT: One Diarrhea At a Time.

    Seriously, airlines can be over cautious when passengers ask for even the seemingly simplest medical requests. On one EK flight, my wife asked for an aspirin simply as a preventative bloodthinner. The FA’s advised that they had to radio to their “ground based medcial supervisors” to obtain permission and then only gave it after about 10 hours into a very long delayed flight.

  40. Twenty years ago this happened to me during the last hour LAX – LHR where I would have a four hour layover before proceeding on to FCO. The suspected culprit? Those “made to order” eggs on offer on AA first class. Within a half hour of ingestion the flight is on final approach and I’m thinking I am too.

    I made my way to the Admirals Club intending to ask for medical help. I know I spent a good hour lying on a cold tile floor next to a commode. Between there and some day loungers offered in that era, I just gutted it out. The duration was about three hours. And miraculously pulled it together to continue to the next flight.

    In the moment I did not know what was happening to me in real time. For the uninitiated, food poisoning is like the “flu on steroids”.

    Now I would have alerted the flight attendant that I needed medical attention on arrival.

  41. Ethiopia and Cameroon (the countries, not the airlines) are food poisoning heaven. The nasty bacterias hit me several times over 20 years, twice aboard flights after departing. It is not fun. As the OP states, being in a premium cabin is less awful, at least for the patient (I am less sure for the fellow passengers). I was lucky as it started both times not long before arrival. The most severe occasion was before landing in Abu Dhabi coming from Addis Ababa. The airport medical team came to remove me from the plane, and I was lovingly taken care of during 18 hours at the airport clinic by an absolutely charming (and handsome) young Palestinian doctor who absolutely wanted to marry me. That was, however, way before same-sex marriages were on the table anywhere (not that it would have made a difference in that country). It struck me that wanting to marry me in the condition I was in required at least some fortitude. I made it to Paris the next day after missing my booked connection and never saw Abdul again, but I still remember him fondly.

  42. I’m glad to report that I experienced food poisoning only on ground and … both times in five star hotels in Germany (sorry, Lucky!). If it happens, I think you really need to keep hydrated. Again, as most food poisoning is caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t help (and if taken orally being thrown up anyway). I’m also not a great fan of medication that reduces the activity of the intestines, like loperamide, because this also keeps the viruses in the body – but admittedly take them sometimes myself.

  43. Never had food poisoning (or a comparable infection)–knock on wood. But, having read this whole thread, and being a person who flies a good bit, I’m adding pepto and anti-diahr. med to my toiletries bag!

    Special thanks to the medical folk who shared their knowledge. (I know not to take antibiotics for such things, but I was minutes away from ordering the charcoal – vinegar combo!)

  44. @sammyb
    It comes in capsules. Actually I never heard of it till this article. I see my friends drinking that awful stuff in the morning and their faces are priceless. If I tell them they could just take a capsule and done with it they will kill me.

  45. Charcoal might work to bind some of the toxins, but apple cider vinegar sure as hell won’t help – your stomach acid is way more acidic than that. The “classic” food poisoning described in the article and in some of the comments is not caused by viruses or bacteria as such, but by bacterial toxins that have been produced outside of the body in contaminated food (most commonly toxins produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, mostly in not properly cooled dairy or egg-containing products). Antibiotics won’t do any good, trying to stay hydrated will. Dimenhydrinate can help with the vomiting and should be availabe (under different brand names) as over-the-counter medication more or less worldwide.

  46. Considering food poisoning is caused by bacteria what “toxins” get bonded to by activated charcoal.
    Once the ACV hits the stomach it gets DIGESTED.
    I guess your research means looking nonsense up on google.

  47. @lucky please quit spreading pseudoscience. This is absolutely disgusting, and makes you no better than that quack, foodbabe

  48. I have friends who “always get food poisoning” when they fly. They claim it happens within hours or even minutes of ingesting some food or other (or alcohol).

    Food poisoning takes a long time to develop and grows exponentially. Minimum real time would be 8-10 hours after eating. So anyone who gets poisoned after 20 minutes or two hours or whatever has probably ingested too much C2H5OH or some food that they are allergic to (not poisoned by) or are just “nervous fliers”.

    Sympathies about the problems experienced as they are REAL – but the ’cause’ is not.

    Try to determine what is triggering repeated episodes or just lay off the sauce and eat minimally and safely within 12 hours of flying.

    Its only sensible to be sensible if you suffer from repeated episodes of upset stomach.

  49. Husband came down with compylobacter in Koh Phi Phi and ended up on a drip in a hospital to rehydrate him. The only thing he was taking was rehydration medication for a few days prior but it didn’t clear, hence the hospital.
    Aside from all the advice and comments already on this post, we will be taking apple cider vinegar and activated charcoal capsules to Thailand with us in November – nothing to lose. Question is (at the risk of starting a riot)- how many to take?

  50. Facing the possible prospect this morning 🙁
    So far only vomitting but some very unusual aromas surfacing from the other end……
    Went against my usual cautions of avoiding seafood 24hrs before a flight and had mussels in cream last night. I can’t say it’s food poisoning (or that if it is it was that) for sure as it’s really not ‘that bad’ (yet) but I’m (excuse the pun) sh*tting myself I’ll get hit hard on the plane.
    Qatar J so not the hideous prospect of economy.
    Bit of a shame as was looking forward to a nice breakfast at the Intercontinental Doha and some champers on the flight.
    Now no brekky and only ginger tea in-flight for me 🙁
    But if that’s as bad as it gets I’ll be delighted really.

    Fingers crossed & buttocks clenched it doesn’t develop.

    I have activated charcoal and have popped some. I have found this to help me in the past with gut problems on occasion – just my experience.

  51. This is late but I had terrible food poisoning back in August 2017!
    I was transiting in Doha and in the Qatar Business Class lounge (was on my way to Singapore).
    I remember I was disappointed that the gigantic lounge only served possibly some sandwiches (I can’t remember) and 2 soups – corn soup and tomato soup.
    I had the corn soup, it was so sour so I stopped drinking it.
    I scooped myself some tomato soup instead.
    It was extremely sour as well but I thought maybe that was how they made their tomato soup.. After all, they also made their corn soup sour.. And besides that, I had gotten a full bowl of tomato soup that shouldn’t be wasted. So I finished it.

    A few hours later (?), I boarded the plane, fell asleep, and woke up feeling nauseous. I thought it was the turbulence making me nauseous until I stumbled into the bathroom and threw up. I tried my best to sleep but was having terrible stomach cramps and threw up again. There wasn’t much the air stewardess could do for me. She looked sorry for me and asked if I wanted more food to fill my emptied stomach. Upon arriving in Singapore, the ground staff in Changi Airport were uncharacteristically unhelpful and refused to let me cut the long queue for immigration even though I was, by then, running a high fever, having tremors, stomach cramps, extremely worried that I was about to faint or maybe throw up again. I remember seeing the air crew again while queueing for immigration and they asked me how I was doing.

    Anyway, lesson learnt is to be wary of lounge food especially if you don’t see any staff around tending to the food. I believe it was around 2-4am when I was in the lounge, so odd hours may also mean that food isn’t as fresh. Also, reminder to myself not to finish strange-tasting soup just because I scooped a whole bowl of it.

    Most importantly, I now carry medication with me when I travel.
    – Buscopan for abdominal cramps (may cause drowsiness and blurred vision)
    – Loperamide for diarrhoea
    – Dimenate for nausea/vomiting (may cause drowsiness)
    – Panadol for fever
    – charcoal pills (I take it immediately if I suspect I have food poisoning, and then monitor, KIV take the above listed medication as required)

    That’s all!
    All the best you guys and safe travels!!

  52. Buy a medication called “ Dompy” in bulk when you travel. It’s available under different names everywhere but the USA. It stops vomiting and nausea pretty quickly. It’s banned in the states because women were abusing its ability to increase milk production when nursing if taken daily for an extended time frame. It’s a life saver for travel!

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