Email claims that a girl developed Syphilis in her mouth after eating semen-contaminated food at an Olive Garden restaurant in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Subject: Fw: This is really gross!!!A girl I work with and her friend went to Olive Garden this weekend; I believe Thursday or Friday night. Amber’s friend did not get what she ordered correctly so she sent the food back. Sunday she woke up and had red bumps all over inside her mouth. She went to the doctor and after many questions and food allergy tests she brought in what she had ate (she had left over’s at home) the doctor tested it.The food tested positive for three different types of semen, Amber’s friend had Syphilis in her mouth from the food at Olive Garden here in WDSM
This email forward tell the sickening tale of a woman who developed Syphilis in her mouth after eating food that had been deliberately contaminated with “three different types of semen”. According to the message, during a visit to the Olive Garden restaurant in West Des Moines, Iowa, the woman sent her meal back to the kitchen because it was not what she ordered. Two days later, the woman developed a rash inside her mouth that was diagnosed as Syphilis. Subsequent testing of leftover food from her Olive Garden meal revealed semen, apparently added to the food by kitchen staff in retaliation for her complaint.
However, the information in the message is nothing more than a malicious rumour that has no basis in fact. The Iowa Department of Public Health and Olive Garden have declared the story as false. According to an article about the hoax email published on WNBC.com, Iowa state health officials stated that “the Olive Garden has a clean record and that there is no cause for concern”. In the article, state epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk notes:
“You could just look at it and say, ‘Gee, I think some teenager sat around and tried to make up the grossest story they could make up and this is what they came up with,'”
Moreover, reliable information about syphilis indicates that it would normally take a lot longer than two or three days before sores actually appeared. A CDC Fact Sheet about syphilis notes:
The primary stage of syphilis is usually marked by the appearance of a single sore (called a chancre), but there may be multiple sores. The time between infection with syphilis and the start of the first symptom can range from 10 to 90 days (average 21 days). The chancre is usually firm, round, small, and painless. It appears at the spot where syphilis entered the body. The chancre lasts 3 to 6 weeks, and it heals without treatment. However, if adequate treatment is not administered, the infection progresses to the secondary stage.
This version of the rumour is just the latest in a series of similar, and equally baseless, tales that have targeted Olive Garden restaurants and other eateries since at least 1989. Stories of contaminated restaurant and takeaway food have become a part of contemporary folklore. There are a variety of such rumours, including HIV contaminated blood added to fast food ketchup containers, rat served as chicken in Chinese eateries, rat urine on soda cans and many more.
Malicious tales such as these are far from harmless. They can unfairly damage the reputation of businesses that have done no wrong. They spread unnecessary alarm within communities. And they can waste the time of health department staff who must field endless enquiries about such foolish stories.
Last updated: 20th July 2007
First published: 20th July 2007
By Brett M. Christensen
Olive Garden Syphilis E-Mail Is Urban Legend
Syphilis – CDC Fact Sheet
Food in Folklore
HIV Infected Blood in the Ketchup Hoax
Rat served in Asian Restaurant Hoax
Leptospirosis Death Warning – Rat Urine on Soda Can Top
Diner Contracts Syphilis at Olive Garden Restaurant
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!