Food poisoning in Thailand


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The past 24 hours have been something of a nightmare. For the third time since I moved to Phuket, I had food poisoning. The culprit this time was a pasta dish comprising black linguini and seafood. I started throwing up at 6:30 am yesterday and didn’t stop until about lunch time. I went to work for an hour, went home and then returned to work after midday feeling like a train wreck.

I had never had food poisoning before I came to Phuket. Funny how it’s never Thai food that makes you sick. After throwing up black linguini, I can honestly say that I never want to have to go through such a debacle again.

So I did a bit of research on how to avoid food poisoning. People with weak immune systems are most at risk, which might explain why I became sick but my girlfriend, who ate the same dish, did not.

There are several ways to boost your immune system:

  • Drink lemon juice
  • Sleep more
  • Eat more protein
  • Drink more water
  • Don’t drink coffee
  • Don’t consume sugar
  • Eat more fruit
  • Spend some time outside in the cold (maybe not)

I’m definitely guilty of a few violations here.

Other ways to avoid food poisoning include:

  • Thoroughly reheat meals (this may have been where I was caught out this time)
    Keep your kitchen clean
  • Protect food from insects and animals (ants seem to get everywhere these days and I do play with my cat rather a lot)
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing food
  • Wash your hands before eating

I once caught food poisoning after eating at Fuji restaurant in Phuket. Raw fish requires a high level of hygiene in its preparation.

So that’s everything in the known universe about food poisoning. Anyone have anything to add? What have your experiences been?

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19 thoughts on “Food poisoning in Thailand

  1. 3 times in Phuket so far: Fuji, Oishi and Laem Him seafood. Hmmm, I think there may be a common theme running here. If you get it, drink plenty of electrolyte solution. Bananas are also quite good.

  2. I've not had it… I think. You know, when you first come to TH and die for the first couple months? Well, I made it through the first 2 months then hell broke loose for 2 months. Then fine ever since. Now – was that 2 mths of hell brought on by bacteria in my stomach adjusting (dying) because the food and water I was ingesting had bad stuff in it? Not sure. Was that considered food poisoning? I don't think so. Ever since then I've been fine. Don't get me wrong – I have the occasional squirtfest in the restroom every 2 months or so – but after 20 minutes of that – ready to roll.

    You have a g/f?

    :P Vern

  3. My second summer home from studying abroad, we went partying in Bangkok. At 3 a.m., before heading home, I ate a plate of chicken rice (kao mun gai). By 6 a.m. I had massive stomach pain but nothing came out from either end. Not until I was outside the X-ray room at the hospital (they were thinking appendicitis) when I started exploding from both directions. I was hospitalized over the weekend.

    And it seems every year I've been away from home, my tolerance gets lower and lower. I don't even dare to eat questionable street food any more.

  4. Funny, the only time i really had food poisoning was in Phuket. It was the pretties chocolate cake i have ever seen but made me as sick as i have ever been. Phuket chocolate cake sucks big time

  5. The US is in the midst of a tomato Salmonella scare, but it seems like it's mostly a McDonald's-related issue, and seeing as I don't eat fast food, I'm not worried. Feel better:)

  6. I am in the restaurant business, I also sell a lot of antibiotic tablets (Disento) to tourists on my island who have food poisoning from the other nearby restaurants. Thais have almost no knowledge about hygiene and food handling and they are not interested in learning.

    NEVER eat fish on islands where you THINK it should be plentiful and fresh. I've seen it crawling with maggots and still being cooked by Thais. I won't post the photos – they would make you sick and vow never to eat here again. ALWAYS have everything cooked in front of you. NO REHEATING. NEVER place your trust in silly signs saying CLEAN FOOD GOOD TASTE – you just buy them and stick them up. If you want to be reasonably sure of not being sick – cook it yourself.

  7. I should have mentioned – there is not a single Thai restaurant that is not crawling with rats. I spend a fortune keeping them out of all of mine. Thais don't bother, they have eaten and pissed on most of your food. Especially roadside street vendors where you can actually sit and watch the rats climbing around on the stalls. If you eat street food, expect repercussions. Thais do !!!!

  8. me and my boyfriend are thinking of going to thailand next year, we will go to bangkok than onto koh samui. i am very weary that we will get food poisoning and it is really putting me off going. and i really want to go on this holiday. any advice on how to avoid food poisoning?

  9. Don't put off a trip to Thailand worrying about food poisoning. You'll be fine. I was in BKK and Samui a couple of weeks ago and had no problems. Eating at popular local restaurants is a surefire way to stay safe most of the time. Try and avoid cheap pasta dishes cooked at Thai places, perhaps. You should be fine though.

  10. I just googled and found this post, I myself had food poisoning at least im pretty sure it was. For those around Pattaya I ate at "Kiss" Restaurant, normally a cheap but clean place but when eating a dish of "Spicy coconut chicken soup". I could not even eat all of it because I suddenly felt full. About 2 hours afterwards the vomiting started and it lasted a good 8-10 hours, along with diarhhea. Luckily for me this is only the first time this has happened to me in Thailand.

    If you come on holiday id doubt you would cook your own food, but if you are staying long at least cooking one good meal at home is a good idea, and probably a good idea to stay away from those food stalls.

  11. thanks for the advice. i think the answer is to stay away from seafood and chicken!! and to look for nice busy restaurants that cook food fresh. i am expecting a dose of the squirts as this is normal when visiting a different country, but fingers crossed i wont get sick!! any more advice would be great

  12. I'm a student in studying to be a helath inspector and I'm writing my senior paper on food borne illnesses. I've been researching developing countries' public health regulations and found none. America has a environmental department for each county . They inspect restaurants to make sure they don't have any vermon, and make sure they practice proper food handling procedures. I've researched that most travelers get sick abroad due to no restaurant regulations and food codes. In the U.S. if you have major violations, your restaurant is shut down. The best thing about America is if you get food poisoning from a restaurant, you can call the health department and they'll go to the restaurant and inspect it.

  13. My brother – John Traynor – died, aged 25, as result of food poisoning he suffered from in Koh Samui. He was on a gap year trip after qualifying as an electrician. He was very sick for two weeks and then died in Sydney due to an Asian Strain of Samonella. Ten years on we still can't beleive it, and I was just googling to see if there is any real awareness/action around the horrendous food hygiene standards in Thailand. He refused to eat from street vendors, the only complaint he made about food was when he ate a KFC chicken burger, who knows? The doctors linked his illness to poultry. Our national newspaper did a piece on it a few years back. I just wanted to post this to anyone going there. Be careful. I since read in the papers of two more cases of mysterious death of young people on that island… I wonder how many die fom this? His death occured two weeks later in Australia and we were told Thailand is a legal nightmare, no point trying to get to the bottom of it.

  14. One of the biggest mistake people make is ordering mixed drinks, which contain ice. Always drink bottled beer or soda or water. The ice is probably contaminated. Best to avoid seafood.

  15. I would rather have hot nails laced with Arsenic hammered into my testicles than set one foot in Thailand; it's corrupt, filthy, and they hate us.

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