Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Help Me Howard: Food Poisoning
Nothing like a great meal in a wonderful restaurant. Of course that is, unless you get food poisoning which can be a physical and financial nightmare. So who is responsible and how do you prove it? It's why one couple called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- The good news Jayme and Michael are getting married, and as anyone who has gotten married knows, the not so great news- they have to pull off the wedding.
Jayme Worden: "For me it's very stressful because I'm doing most of it with the help of my family and his family and what not. It's very stressful."
Stressful, so the young couple likes to get out once in awhile to relax. A few weeks ago, dinner at a pizza place.
Jayme Worden: "I had wine and I'm not going to lie, it was delicious. I really enjoyed the food I had."
Jayme had steak panini with french fries that night. Then four hours later...
Jayme Worden: "Once I woke up with cold sweat, bad abdominal pain, immediately vomiting."
The next day Jayme was worse and was rushed to the hospital, where doctors told her she had food poisoning. A bad case of food poisoning.
Jayme Worden: "I had antibiotic pumped into me for a day. I had fluids for two and a half days. It was a lot more serious then we thought. It was devastating. I was very upset."
The doctors thought the poisoning might have come from a dirty work surface or contaminated utensils. So Michael went back to the restaurant to let the owner know he needed to clean his countertops and utensils better. Michael says the owner didnt appreciate his advise.
Michael Hyman: "He immediately went into you know Michael this isn't from here. That could be anywhere from 48 hours. There is no way you can prove anything. And made me feel it was not a serious situation when it was a serious situation."
Jayme Worden: "Made me feel stupid. To laugh at us and tell us there's nothing you can prove."
After two and a half days, Jayme was released from the hospital and handed an $18,000 bill.
Jayme Worden: "Thank God we had insurance. If someone went in there and didn't have insurance, I mean, that's an $18,000 bill you would be dealign with and even with insurance it's very expensive."
The $1,500 deductible they owe will have to come from their wedding fund. They will pay it, but they wish the restaurant owner had at least listened to them.
Jayme Worden: "We didn't ask for our food to be comped. We didn't ask for our hospital bill to be paid back. We weren't asking anything from them. We were telling them listen, it takes someone like us to stand up and tell them so it doesn't happen to other people."
Well Howard, Jayme and Michael will pay the hospital deductible. But the legal question remains, does the restaurant have to pay it?
Howard Finkelstein: "If you can prove you got sick from tainted food, yes they have to pay the bill. But proving it is the difficult part. You have to hope that other people eating the same dish got sick the same night. Or if you took a doggie bag home, have it tested to see if it's bad."
After Jayme called the State Health Department they inspected the restaurant and found 16 major critical violation and 6 minor violations.The restautant owner told us that is normal for a restaurant. Also that its a new restaurant and it takes the staff time to adjust.
He did tell us he was sorry that he was rude to Michael, but he is convinced Jayme did not get sick from his restaurant because several other people had the same steak panini that night and no one complained.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you think a restaurant's food made you sick, contact the health department like Jayme and Michael did. They will investigate and hopefully stop it from happening to someone else again."
Fortunately, Jayme is now better. Unfortunately a restaurant lost two customers and not because of their food.
Jayme Worden: "Had they said sorry, give it a month or two I probably would have gone back because it happens to everyone. It's not something any restaurant can stay away from."
Patrick Fraser: "You may be wondering why we didnt name the restaurant. Because Howard and I cannot be 100 percent sure their food made Jayme sick. Odds are it was their fault. But on the slim chance it was not, if we name them the bad publicity could kill the restaurant. So without irrefutable proof, we can't do that to them."
Sickened by a not so tasty problem? Need someone to clean it up? Let us take a bite out of it and cook up a solution for you.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com