Food Poisoning in China: My Culprits

Food Poisoning in China: My Culprits
darkstar1 Jul 05, 2013 15:49


Well since living in China for around four years I’ve only managed to be properly food poisoned three times. Not too bad I think. I’m not talking about the upset stomach following an evening of spicy food or chuan’er, no I’m talking about the full-blown, liquid spraying from every orifice (sorry for the image) lying in bed wanting to die scenario. I write this because I suffered my third bout of food poisoning over the weekend, and I’m going to try and see if there is any recurring pattern regarding the causes by listing each case separately and what I believed caused it.


Note: I have lived in China for over years, with one in Guangdong and three in Beijing. I have travelled to many cities and other locations across the country though all of my cases of food poisoning occurred in Beijing – interesting as opposed to them not happening in a backward village in Qinghai, or a dirty BBQ joint in Foshan. Just saying.



When: May 2010

Where: My old apartment near the Olympic Forest Park in Beijing

Cause: Debatable. I recall having a beer and a pancake/Chinese pizza-like thing from the local supermarket as the last thing I ingested before the sickness struck.

How long: I was down and out for two days. Couldn’t drink water, couldn’t eat, and everything that I out into my mouth resulted in violent, uncontrollable vomiting.

What did I do: Laid in bed, screamed like the girl from the exorcist. Not much else.



When: November 2012

Where: My current apartment near the Olympic Sports Center in Beijing (Olympics again)

Cause:  Had to have been a dodgy pizza at an Irish bar the night before. However, friends I was with that shared the pizza with me didn’t report any problems. I also had a fair bit to drink, though again my friends (and just about everyone in the bar) was downing Carlsberg from the same tap so who knows. Hmm.

How long: About a day and a half. I spent one day suffering the same symptoms as above.

What did I do: Rekindled my love with early 2000s British sitcom Goodness Gracious Me on YouTube. Though I narrowly avoided staining my computer screen with vomit every five minutes as I rushed to the bathroom.



When: 30th June 2013 (last Sunday)

Where: Same as number two.

Cause: One of two things again. I went hiking with some pals on Saturday (it wasn’t the best weather) and we relaxed after the trek with some BBQ at a village in the outskirts of Beijing. On Sunday, I had a pizza at budget pizza chain Annie’s, which I’m quite fond of and have never had any issues with before. I’m gonna go with the top one.

How long: Day and a half once more. Though I’ve had a dodgy stomach all week. Similar symptoms as above.

What did I do: Laid in bed and read vicariously on my tablet. Saving the rush time to the toilet, I had a conveniently placed bucket next to the bed which was emptied every hour or so. Nice.


So there you have it. I think I’ve been lucky to only to have been poisoned three times in my four year stay here, especially as I have a habit of being rather adventurous with my food choices shall we say. Any patterns? Well pizza and beer seem to be recurring causes, though they are one of my favourite food/drink combos. Not gonna stop me from eating/drinking them though!

Any food poisoning stories? Share them below!

Tags:Food Expat Tales


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sounds like you eat a lot of pizza

Jul 09, 2013 22:58 Report Abuse


After reading this I'm convinced I know the answer - unlikely though it seems. Cheese. Just pick the the most agonising description above and that's what I got in Lijiang. The worst part was having to fly in that condition. I asked for my seat to be changed to one near the toilet. I had had a cheese omelette and my Chinese wife had one forkful of it. She also got ill but to a lesser degree and for a shorter time. I don't believe eggs can make you that ill - or you'd notice the smell. When eggs are bad there's no mistaking it. You get cheese in pizzas - QED. Having said that I am at a loss to explain exactly how cheese can have a food poisoning effect - it's not as if it was green!

Jul 15, 2013 09:20 Report Abuse


It could be contaminated water. Especially as two of you stayed in the same area. If you have salad, or ice in drinks, watch out.

Jul 08, 2013 21:19 Report Abuse


Stayed in a hotel near the Olympic Stadium Beijing (Hey! Olympics! That could be it.)and after a KFC meal, something I rarely eat, I was quite ill for 9 days although the 1st day was the most challenging as I had to catch a flight back here. Some close calls there. Took some TCM to actually fix the problem after it was recommended by a Chinese friend here.

Jul 08, 2013 17:12 Report Abuse


Great report. I recall one food poisoning story. My body was adaptive to the US so coming from US to China I was get sick whenever I go on a China vacation. I remember one instance where we ate at a big fancy restaurant full of exotic foods like jelly fish, frog, fish. I guess it was too much that I went into a fever and literally want to pass out. Got better after I left China

Jul 08, 2013 16:36 Report Abuse