Food poisoning

How do I know I have got it and what do I do?

Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Sometimes, you might also develop a fever. Other illnesses, medicines and excessive alcohol can cause similar symptoms to food poisoning

There are three main things to consider when you are ill

  1. rehydration - drink plenty of fluids and perhaps use rehydration powders available from pharmacies
  2. seek medical assistance - if you are concerned about your health or the health of someone else, contact NHS Direct (0845 4647) or your GP for advice (especially in the case of pregnant women, elderly people, children and people who are already ill)
  3. report it - if you think that your illness was caused by food prepared outside the home, report the incident to your local environmental health service.

Why is it important to report food poisoning? 

If you think your illness has been caused by food from a  restaurant or other food business, the local environmental health department needs to know so it can investigate the business in question. If environmental health officers find a problem with the business' food hygiene practices, and get the business to improve them, this could help prevent other people suffering from food poisoning.

What are the causes of food poisoning?

There are many different microbes including bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause food poisoning and many result in diarrhoea, vomitting or both as well as other symptoms such as fevers and rashes.

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have food poisoning. The norovirus group of viruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis (upset stomach) in the UK. Further information on Norovirus can be found on the NHS webpage Norovirus Infections or the HPA Norovirus webpage.

There are also diseases which we are notified about which can cause food poisoning. We may contact people we have been notified about to get information from them about where they may have picked up the illness. More information on these can be found on our Infectious Disease page.

For more information contact the Food Safety Team on (01273) 292161