Food hygiene and safety

Food poisoning

Food poisoning results from contaminated food and causes diarrhoea, abdominal pains and vomiting. The food is usually contaminated by bacteria, such as salmonella or campylobacter. Very often, people suffering from suspected food poisoning feel sure that the cause is the last meal eaten, especially if this was at a restaurant or takeaway.

However, food poisoning bacteria take quite a long time before actually making you ill, typically 12 to 48 hours but possibly longer. So, it’s more likely that the cause of the illness was something eaten in the previous few days. Some illnesses can take up to 11 days before you show any symptoms.

Symptoms can also result from viral infections, which may be airborne, or some other cause and may not in fact be food-related. The only way of finding out for sure whether you have food poisoning is to provide a stool (faecal) sample for testing. This can be arranged by your GP.

Of course, if a whole group of people, at a party or wedding reception, for example, are all affected by the same symptoms at around the same time then the circumstantial evidence may be sufficient for us to investigate further.

What we do

We will investigate cases of food poisoning / reports of illness. To report or make a complaint about a food premises that you think might be linked to your illness, please contact Public Protection Services on 0300 300 8302.

It is important that you tell us if you:

  • are a food handler
  • work in a nursery or care home, for example, and have direct or close contact with vulnerable / susceptible patients or persons to whom food poisoning could have particularly serious consequences
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