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If a Restaurant Critic Gets Food Poisoning, Can They Mention It In The Review?

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Last year, a man in Orange County, California got sick, and he blamed it on something funky he ate. This happens to almost everyone sooner or later, and we spend the subsequent hours over the toilet, cursing the miscreant griddle or cutting board that we believe to be at fault. While most of us are mere mortals, the aforementioned man was a food critic, and he used his platform to demand that Orange County issue health inspection letter-grades to restaurants because of his unfortunate stomach bug.

The critic, Brad A. Johnson of the Orange County Register, wrote, "I was planning to review a restaurant in Newport Beach this week. Instead, I got food poisoning there. Everyone at my table got sick. Unspeakably sick. For days. It was awful." After some investigating, Johnson found that the restaurant had a record of health inspection violations. An editor's note mentions that the paper was "not identifying the restaurants involved in this report." Their explanation was that because "nearly half of Orange County restaurants would not receive an A under the letter-grade system, the problem addressed here is widespread. Rather than single out specific eateries for violations, the goal of this column is to show a systemwide problem."

But would it be fair—or even ethical—for a professional restaurant critic to so much as allude to a post-meal illness in a review?

"No, food critics are not allowed to mention that they got food poisoning at a restaurant," says Eater restaurant critic Robert Sietsema. "For one thing, they are not medical experts, and I think even an internist would be hesitant to attribute food poisoning to a particular establishment." Plenty of things can make you sick, and pinpointing a specific eatery or dish is incredibly difficult—and proving so after the publication of a review, which usually occurs weeks or months after the critics' last visit to the restaurant, is even harder.

And since being incognito is the name of the game for restaurant critics, throwing samples from every course into baggies for future lab testing could be slightly counterproductive.

Even amateur food critics (read: anyone with the Internet) are capable of becoming snagged in this ethical quagmire. "The reputation of many otherwise decent restaurants has been ruined by careless (and probably libelous) use of social media to proclaim, 'I got food poisoning there, so stay away,'" says Sietsema.

So puke your heart out, drink some ginger ale, and eat a few saltines—but use caution and sense if you choose to broadcast the identity of the eatery that was allegedly at fault to the world. If you are mistaken, that won't sit well with anyone.

(Note: If your illness is serious, go see a medical professional—their review is the only one that matters.)

A paragraph regarding incubation periods for foodborne illnesses has been removed. Many take days, but others are more immediate. For more information, visit the CDC's website here.

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Big Questions
How Are Royal Babies Named?
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Jack Taylor, Getty Images

After much anticipation, England's royal family has finally received a tiny new addition. The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's second son was confirmed by Kensington Palace on April 23, but the name of the royal newborn has yet to be announced. For the heir to the British throne and his wife, choosing a name for their third child—who is already fifth in line to the throne—likely won't be as easy as flipping through a baby name book; it's tradition for royals to select names that honor important figures from British history.

According to ABC WJLA, selecting three or four names is typical when naming a royal baby. Will and Kate followed this unwritten rule when naming their first child, George Alexander Louis, and their second, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Each name is an opportunity to pay homage to a different British royal who came before them. Some royal monikers have less savory connotations (Prince Harry's given name, Henry, is reminiscent of a certain wife-beheading monarch), but typically royal babies are named for people who held a significant and honorable spot in the family tree.

Because there's a limited pool of honorable monarchs from which to choose, placing bets on the royal baby name as the due date approaches has become a popular British pastime. One name that keeps cropping up this time around is James; the original King James ruled in the early 17th century, and it has been 330 years since a monarch named James wore the crown.

If the royal family does go with James for the first name of their youngest son, that still leaves at least a couple of slots to be filled. So far, the couple has stuck with three names each for their children, but there doesn't seem to be a limit; Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to George VI in 1936, shouldered the full name of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images
CHRIS JACKSON, AFP/Getty Images

On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 92 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 9, 2018, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.

Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day that is labeled her "official" birthday (usually the second Saturday in June). Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.

The tradition started in 1748, with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.

The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by that time. At first it was strictly a military event, at which regiments displayed their flags—or "colours"—so that soldiers could familiarize themselves. But George was known as a formidable general after having led troops at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, so the military celebration seemed a fitting occasion onto which to graft his warm-weather birthday. Edward VII, who also had a November birthday, was the first to standardize the June Trooping the Colour and launched a tradition of a monarchical review of the troops that drew crowds of onlookers.

Even now, the date of the "official" birthday varies year to year. For the first seven years of her reign, Elizabeth II held her official birthday on a Thursday but has since switched over to Saturdays. And while the date is tied to the Trooping the Colour in the UK, Commonwealth nations around the world have their own criteria, which generally involve recognizing it as a public holiday.

Australia started recognizing an official birthday back in 1788, and all the provinces (save one) observe the Queen's Birthday on the second Monday in June, with Western Australia holding its celebrations on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October.

In Canada, the official birthday has been set to align with the actual birth date of Queen Victoria—May 24, 1819—since 1845, and as such they celebrate so-called Victoria Day on May 24 or the Monday before.

In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June, and in the Falkland Islands the actual day of the Queen's birth is celebrated publicly.

All in all, just another reason it's great to be Queen.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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