I was watching the news and saw an entire family of young kids on a road trip dying from food poisoning after they had stopped to grab lunch at a small diner. Could they have known this would happen within the first few bites?

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    Note that your scary example is most likely a total hoax. Unless you're feeding the entire family death cap mushrooms, and they all ate the exact same dish at a diner, it's highly unlikely that an entire family would die at once. – user57361 Mar 5 '19 at 19:21
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    All over social media is hardly a reliable sign of truth :-). I could totally see an outbreak from one restaurant, there have been many, but to only have one family affected? That stretches the bounds of the imagination – user57361 Mar 5 '19 at 21:12
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    A 2013 case is currently over the news again in germany... though that was about malicious and intentional poisoning.... – rackandboneman Mar 6 '19 at 15:44
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    @George M_ you make a lot of sense. Even the father argued that "i ate the same food, why didn't i get sick?" This made me go back to see if there were any updates regarding the whole tragedy and my God did they have it all wrong. Another death. This time the aunt all under mysterious circumstances and now it's being confirmed in the chemical forensic analysis that the deaths occurred not due to food poisoning but rather due to inhalation of deadly poisonous gas. – Hamid Sabir Mar 7 '19 at 14:18
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    It's being claimed that heavy amounts of Aluminium Phosphide were found in the room the family were staying in (to get rid of insects and rodents) with empty bottles of the insecticide found in the store of the guest house and deplored that instead of cleaning the room after using the deadly fumigant, the administration gave the room to the guests, which led to the tragedy. The kids and the aunt slept on the floor and were effected the most. The authorities made a real mess of things. Taking into custody 33 employees, sealed up 2 restaurants and a food distributor. – Hamid Sabir Mar 7 '19 at 14:18

While our senses can warn us of some potential problems, there are many pathogens that we can't detect by smelling, tasting, or feeling. So, no, you generally can't tell from a bite or two of food. Alternately, if you know how an establishment stores, processes, and prepares the food you are about to consume, you could probably make some meaningful assumptions about the safety of the food your are going to eat. You are always taking a risk when you don't know how food was prepared and handled. The risk may be very small most of the time, but sometimes even the finest restaurants in the world serve food that has been compromised.

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    It should also be noted that the timeline for food poisoning vary widely, with about an absolute minimum of 1 h for Staphylococcus aureus, but largely (at least hours) longer for most types. This makes it very hard to pinpoint the source down to "that diner", when in reality it could have been the dinner last night (or even several days ago) or breakfast that morning. – bob1 Mar 5 '19 at 4:47
  • @bob1 excellent point. Thanks for adding the comment. – moscafj Mar 5 '19 at 11:50
  • I was wondering, could it be possible that the family got sick simply because they did not wash their hands before eating? Perhaps it wasn't the food but their hands that were contaminated. – Hamid Sabir Mar 5 '19 at 14:58
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    @HamidSabir It's possible, but the effect would not be immediate, as pointed out above. – moscafj Mar 5 '19 at 15:53

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