Q: What should be done if chicken or dairy has been consumed after being left unrefrigerated for 2 days? 
My loved one has no signs or symptoms of food poisoning…should we go to the ER anyway or visit urgent care?  Would getting your stomach pumped reverse any effects of food poisoning and eliminate the bacteria from your body?
A: Hi Tiffany,

If your loved one is not showing any signs or symptoms of a foodborne illness, such as vomiting and diarrhea, then there is no need to visit an ER or urgent care facility. Without signs or symptoms, it is unlikely that doctors will be able to accurately treat your loved one. I would not recommend a stomach pump procedure. Not only is it an extremely unpleasant procedure that involves sticking multiple tubes down one’s throat, it is also mainly used for acute poisoning cases, not foodborne illnesses. Additionally, chances are, your loved one’s immune system and gut microbiome are strong enough to fight off any unsavory pathogens that were present in the unrefrigerated food.  

It is important to note that it can take days or in some cases weeks after pathogen exposure for a foodborne illness to manifest. However, most foodborne illnesses set in within 4 – 24 hours on average.  

For now, I would recommend you watch for symptoms. If they begin to feel ill, ensure your loved one is well-hydrated and follow a bland food diet, such as the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet, for the duration of their illness. If the illness persists for longer than 1 day or if you notice severe symptoms, such as a high fever (above 103°F for adults, above 101°F for children) or bloody diarrhea, seek medical attention. 

If your loved one is under the age of 5, older than 65, pregnant, or has a compromised immune system, it is especially crucial to carefully monitor their symptoms and illness severity. These groups have a higher risk of getting sick and developing a more serious illness.  

Meat, Poultry & Seafood