Food poisoning

Symptoms of food poisoning, and advice on what to do.

What is food poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating food contaminated with harmful bacteria (such as salmonella) or viruses (such as norovirus).

Symptoms of food poisoning

The symptoms usually begin one to three days after eating contaminated food. These can vary, but the most common are:

  • Feeling sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting (sickness)
  • Stomach cramps

The NHS website provides more information about the symptoms.


Foods that are particularly vulnerable to contamination, if they are not handled stored or cooked properly, include:

  • Raw meat and poultry
  • 'Ready to eat' foods, such as cooked sliced meats, pate, soft cheeses and pre-packed sandwiches
  • Dairy products, such as eggs and milk

What to do if you are suffering from food poisoning

  • Go to your doctor and ask for medical advice
  • Report the incident to your employer if you work with food or vulnerable people
  • Report it to us so we can investigate

You can also contact NHS Choices or telephone 111.

Ways to prevent food poisoning

The NHS website provides information on how to reduce the risk of food poisoning at home.

Reporting food poisoning

By law, doctors have to report any suspected or confirmed cases of food poisoning to our Environmental Health team at the council.

To prevent the spread of the infection, we will respond to cases by contacting the affected person and asking for details about the illness, including the dates and times of symptoms, what they have eaten recently, their job and details of people in the household. We may also ask you to provide a faecal sample.

Food poisoning related to a food business

If there is evidence that your food poisoning may be related to a specific food business in the area, we will want to discuss the matter in detail with you.

In most cases, it is very difficult to connect an illness to a particular food business. In the case of a group of people all affected by the same symptoms at the same time then it may be easier to find out the source of the problem. An example of this might be at a wedding reception.

Why we investigate

We investigate the possible causes of food poisoning to try to provide advice and guidance on how to prevent the spread of the illness and what precautions to take while you're ill.

For example, if someone, who has the illness, works preparing food or with vulnerable people, they could be putting their customers or clients at risk.

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