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Food poisoning

There are lots of different reasons for food poisoning but they all come from eating or drinking food contaminated by bacteria, or the toxins the bacteria produce.

If you think you have food poisoning contact your doctor as soon as possible. They might ask you for a sample they can examine.

Get in touch with your doctor immediately if the person affected is a baby, is elderly or has an existing illness or condition or if symptoms are severe or go on for a long time.

You can find out more about food poisoning and its causes on the NHS website.

We investigate cases of food poisoning and some other food borne illnesses notified to us by GPs, the public and other local authorities. We investigate to try to prevent illness spreading. We also try to find possible causes.

When food poisoning is confirmed, we may contact you to ask some questions to find out the cause or source of the illness:

  • what have you eaten, where and when
  • whether anyone else you ate with also experienced symptoms
  • if you have been in contact with water, either in a swimming pool or in a river, lake, stream, paddling pool, etc
  • if you have drunk any untreated tap water or unpasteurised milk
  • if you have been in contact with any farm or zoo animals
  • if you have pets and if any of them have been unwell
  • if you have recently been abroad

If you, or anyone else in your home, handles food for others as part of their job or works with pre-school children, the elderly or others at risk of illness, contact us immediately.

Note: Food handlers and people working with at risk people must not return to work until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. Children at pre-school or nursery should also be kept off for this time. Even if you are not a food handler or someone working with at risk people we would strongly recommend that you don’t return to work for 48 hours.

Parents and guardians of children under 5 years old, or of adults unable to keep good standards of personal hygiene, are strongly advised to keep them away from school or other places until they have been symptom free for 48 hours.