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Food Poisoning

  • Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food.  The symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach or abdominal pain, and fever. These symptoms can also be caused by the spread from person to person of virus infections and are not necessarily associated with food.

Food poisoning is usually caused by bacteria, but may be caused by viruses, chemicals or poisonous plants. The illness may take several hours or even days after eating the food to cause symptoms, which can make it difficult to identify the cause of the illness.

If you are concerned over your symptoms you should consult NHS Direct or your GP for advice.  Your GP may arrange for a stool or vomit sample to be examined, which is the only way to confirm food poisoning.

The food team works with the NHS Health Protection Unit (HPU) to investigate food poisoning notifications to try to trace the source and prevent further illness.  Doctors notify the HPU if they believe you have suffered from food poisoning.

Persons working in catering, in patient care, or with vulnerable groups (the very old, or very young) should notify their manager of their illness, and should not return to work until they have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours.

If you have food poisoning you should take extra care over personal hygiene and hand-washing to prevent further spread of the illness.  Follow the link below for advice about food poisoning and hygiene precautions.

See food hygiene in the home for advice on how to prevent food poisoning.