In Tampa for a weeklong vacation, Alice and her husband checked into the hotel and then went across the street to Zio's Pizzeria. "I ordered meat lasagna and had to send it back because it was cold in the middle," says Alice. "The server brought back the lasagna and it still wasn't heated through, so I didn't finish it.
"Shortly after we left Zio's, I felt very full and uncomfortable. We had to take the shuttle back to the airport and pick up our rental car, and by the time we got to the airport, I was feeling sick. When we got into the car and headed back to our hotel, I was really nauseous: we had to stop on the highway so I could throw up. I had a terrible night with stomach pains. On a scale of one to 10, the pain was at level three. The next day the pain increased to eight; it was coming in waves and I got really worried. I suspected foodborne illness but wasn't sure.
"We asked the hotel where the nearest Urgent Care center was—we arrived just as the pain hit level 10. The doctor diagnosed gastroenteritis from contaminated food. He also told me that a lot of contaminated food isn't caught or reported because (in my case, for example) the entire piece of lasagna doesn't have to be contaminated.
"I was prescribed an antibiotic and the next evening I felt a bit better, but had a nasty headache. We phoned the restaurant the next day and told them how sick I was. One of the partners agreed to compensate us for the food and the urgent care visit but said he didn't have the cash at that time. Later that day another partner called and denied any part of foodborne illness. He said he was certified in food safety and it wasn't possible that their food was contaminated. 'So why was it served cold?' I asked him.
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Alice and her husband contacted a few attorneys in Florida but no one would take the case without evidence. Unfortunately, her doctor didn't get a stool sample and Alice didn't take home leftover lasagna.
"I intend to blog online about this restaurant so more people are aware of the danger it can cause," says Alice. "I don't want anyone else to suffer like I did, especially on vacation—our week was ruined. And it still hasn't gone away; every time I have an ache or pain I wonder if the bacteria has planted itself in another part of my body..."