These Food Poisoning Horror Stories Will Scare You Into Paying Attention After a Recall

Whether it’s salmonella, listeria, or E. coli, it seems every day there’s a new food to be concerned about. And if there appear to be more food recalls than ever before, you may be on to something. Food Safety News explains an increase in the volume of food sold in the U.S. is just one of the reasons you’re having to check your food labels more often.

If you’re concerned about poisoning, the general rule is that prepared foods and meals are the most likely to make you sick. But even seemingly innocuous foods can also make you ill — and these stories prove it.

1. Raw seafood made this woman seriously ill

dozen oysters

Raw oysters can lead to illness. | Acme Oyster House via Instagram

One BuzzFeed Community member told their horrific tale of food poisoning to the publication. The writer said she had oysters the night before her first day of teaching English. Once she got to school, she started to feel nauseous. It was only 20 minutes into her lesson before she projectile vomited across the room — and accidentally sprayed a few of her students.

In this case, it seems the teacher most likely contracted vibriosis, an illness you typically develop after consuming raw seafood.

Next: This mom says she’s super careful about what she eats after this incident. 

2. This deadly bacteria spreads by washing chicken before you eat it


This bacteria is common in the U.K. | Bit245/iStock/Getty Images 

Claire, a resident of Northern Ireland, came into contact with campylobacter in 2013. In case you’re unfamiliar, this bacteria is one of the most common in the U.K. — and it can spread by washing chickens before you eat them, Belfast Telegraph reports.

In Claire’s case, she was unsure of how she contracted the illness. But it caused her to spend a week in the hospital for horrible abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. She said it took her a full six weeks to recover completely.

Next: This child contracted salmonella from the most unlikely of places. 

3. Salmonella gave this child a 105-degree fever

It turns out, in this case, peanut butter crackers were to blame. | Girl Scouts

Jennifer and Justin Krieger told their horrifying tale of food poisoning that affected their son to Consumers Union. They explained they knew something was wrong when their 4-year-old became sick to his stomach. And just a day after the stomach sickness began, their son developed a 105-degree fever and severe dehydration.

Thankfully, the child recovered from his salmonella poisoning. It turns out the peanut butter crackers he ate were contaminated and recalled shortly after.

Next: This woman’s food poisoning caused her to give birth prematurely. 

4. Even her precautions couldn’t stop this listeria infection

Emmental Swiss cheese

This woman missed the recall on her cheese and it impacted her pregnancy. | Sebalos/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Food Safety News explains Joanna Valentine was pregnant when she started taking all recommended precautions for the health of her baby. She even paid careful attention to food recalls — but evidently, it wasn’t enough. She ended up giving birth prematurely at just 26 weeks due to a listeria infection brought on by hard artisan cheese.

Hard cheeses are considered quite safe to eat when you’re pregnant, which makes this story all the more shocking. Unfortunately, Joanna didn’t see that her cheese was recalled until it was too late.

Next: This woman’s battle with E. coli left her paralyzed. 

5. All it took was 1 burger to ruin this woman’s nervous system

Tasty grilled burger

One bad hamburger was all it took. | id-art/ Images

The New York Times reports 22-year-old Stephanie Smith thought it was just a stomach virus that was giving her intense pain. But it wasn’t long before her cramping turned into kidney failure and convulsions that knocked her unconscious.

The doctors found she had a severe form of foodborne illness due to the deadly bacteria E. coli. It turns out the ground meat used in a hamburger her mother cooked her was the culprit. Now, Stephanie is paralyzed from the waist down.

Next: This woman’s foodborne illness put her in a coma for two months.

6. Botulism destroyed the lives of this couple

Fresh carrots arranged on a wooden background.

The fresh ingredients in Bolthouse Farms’ carrot juice were contaminated.| 

After drinking Bolthouse Farms carrot juice back in 2006, Susanna Chen and her partner became seriously ill. It turns out their juice was contaminated and they both contracted botulism.

Susanna was in a coma for two months and years later was still in the hospital due to the illness’s effects. She was a former dancer, but botulism left her unable to breathe without the help of oxygen. Not only that, but she also said walking was difficult. “My life is totally destroyed,” she told

Next: This might be the most horrifying parasite to ever live in food.

7. Eating undercooked pork gave this man a tapeworm in his eye

Fresh Raw Pork Shoulder

This story is truly horrifying. | 

Yes, you heard that right. Women’s Health explains Florida resident Sam Cordero ate undercooked pork over the holidays — but it had frightening consequences. It turns out eating the pork gave Sam a tapeworm — and it ended up right behind his eye.

The good news is he was able to get treatment, but it reminds us all to cook pig products thoroughly. Tapeworm larval cysts can live in raw, infected pork, and similar cysts can also live in undercooked beef. Use a meat thermometer to ensure you’re cooking your foods to a safe temperature.

Next: This woman says this parasite made her stomach feel like it was “eating itself.”

8. A prepackaged salad gave this woman a parasite no one could detect

Packaged Salad

Always check the expiration date on your purchases. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images 

We’re all trying to eat a little healthier. Unfortunately, for 54-year-old Donna Heller, her salad-heavy diet led to contracting cyclospora.

Donna explains for over a month, she didn’t know what was wrong with her. But ABC News explains when she ate, she could only take a few bites before feeling too stuffed to continue. It turns out she was just one of over 400 people in 16 states who also contracted this parasite from mixed salads.

Next: Love sushi? You may not want to read this next story.

9. This man’s 5-foot tapeworm has us scared of sushi

Sushi California Roll

Make sure your sushi is made with fresh ingredients! |

If there’s anything scarier than a parasite from your food, it’s a parasite from your food that’s over 5 feet long. TIME explains the plight of one patient in California who visited Dr. Kenny Banh with a grocery bag in tow. In the bag was a 5-foot-6 tapeworm that the patient claims came out of him.

The patient reportedly ate salmon sashimi nearly every day. And in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that tapeworm larvae were found in North American salmon.

Next: This heartbreaking incident occurred due to bad spinach.

10. This 9-year-old asked his parents if he was going to die from E. coli

Spinach leaves

Spinach was the culprit in this example. | Vkuslandia/iStock/Getty Images Plus 

E. coli strikes again — but this time, it’s bad spinach that nearly killed a 9-year-old. The New York Times reports back in 2006, fresh spinach grown in California was linked to 170 sicknesses in 25 states, and at least one person died.

As for the Krause family, they fed their son a spinach salad that ended up poisoning him. He underwent kidney dialysis, blood transfusions, and drug treatments that made him hallucinate. He also reportedly had fluid buildup near his heart and crazy high blood sugar levels. Luckily, he survived.

Next: Cruise ship lovers need to know about this virus. 

11. A cruise ship’s buffet poisoned nearly 200 passengers

Cuisine Culinary Buffet Dinner Catering Dining Food Celebration

Giant buffets can be deadly. | Jure/Getty Images

A cruise ship sounds like a dream — and the bottomless buffet sounds even better. For passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas in 2017, however, their vacation turned into a nightmare. Los Angeles Times reports 195 passengers on board reported vomiting and diarrhea while on board. And they found it was due to being sickened by the all-you-can-eat food offerings.

Foodborne illness on cruise ships isn’t new, either. Unfortunately, you’ll want to be careful of any foods that are left out at room temperature all day long.

Next: This woman says contaminated eggs put her through “the worst thing” she’d “ever been through.” 

12. The largest outbreak of salmonella ever put this woman through an awful ordeal

Fresh chicken and quail eggs on a wooden rustic background

Contaminated eggs are recalled from time to time. | 

Contaminated eggs are no joke, as restaurant-goer Robin Shaffer found out. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports Robin ate a local Mexican restaurant in Minnesota when she became very ill. Little did she realize she was infected with salmonella — as were over 1,600 others.

The owners of the company responsible for the outbreak pleaded guilty to misdemeanor food safety violations. And it turns out two factory farms in Iowa provided the eggs infected with salmonella.

Next: Three died after eating this food you would never suspect could poison you.

13. Cantaloupes contaminated with listeria killed a number of people

Cantaloupe is seen sliced open

Who knew cantaloupes could be deadly?| Joe Raedle/Getty Images 

Newsweek explains in March 2018, Australia was rocked by a cantaloupe recall. The fruits that were infected with listeria killed three and affected over a dozen others.

Cantaloupes may seem innocent, but it turns out they’re one of the most common foods to be affected. This could be because the bacteria sits on the rind of the melon first, so when you cut into it, you carry it through to the meat of the fruit that you eat. If there’s anything this outbreak teaches us, it’s to always wash your produce before consumption.

Next: All it took was one contaminated steak before this actor was having stroke-like symptoms.

14. An undercooked steak nearly killed this very healthy young actor

Rare steak

One TV star almost died from an undercooked steak. | zeleno/Getty Images 

If you haven’t yet learned of the risks you’re taking when you consume undercooked meat, you’ve been warned again. Daily Mail Online explains actor Matt Milchard from the British TV show EastEnders ordered steak at a restaurant in Spain. He stopped eating it halfway through, however, as he felt it tasted off. Just a few days later, he was slurring his speech and was having difficulty keeping his eyes open. His face also started to droop.

Though Milchard’s father thought his son may have had a stroke, it turns out botulism was the cause.

Next: Raw oysters gave this woman a deadly flesh-eating bacteria.

15. This woman never imagined her food would give her flesh-eating bacteria

Raw oysters

Raw oysters were to blame for this reaction. | ValentynVolkov/Getty Images

We’ll never forget this scary incident that occurred in 2017. Business Insider explains Jeanette LeBlanc purchased a sack of raw oysters from a market and ate them. And just 36 hours later, she reportedly had a rash on her leg and extreme respiratory problems.

She contracted a rare form of vibriosis that gave her a flesh-eating condition. She died from the disease, which reportedly kills up to 30% of those who contract it.

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