Food poisoning describes illness caused by eating food that has been contaminated. Food contamination can be caused by a number of factors including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, chemicals, allergens and toxins produced by harmful algae such as ciguatera fish poisoning and paralytic shellfish poisoning.
The most common causes of food poisoning in England and Wales are caused by bacteria and viruses.
Food poisoning symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever, although symptoms vary between micro organisms. The incubation period, the time between exposure (consuming the food or drink) and the start of symptoms also varies between a few hours and several days.
The Council's environmental health service investigates alleged cases of food poisoning with our colleagues at Public Health England. The purpose of our investigation is to try and identify the cause of illness and if necessary to implement control measures to prevent them from spreading to other people.
It is important to report food poisoning
Reporting food poisoning is important because it can be a serious illness for some groups of people, especially the very young, very old, chronically ill and those who work in jobs involving food. Anyone suspecting that they are suffering from food poisoning should, in the first place, contact their GP for medical advice. It may be necessary for a faecal sample to be taken to confirm the illness.
If you think you have food poisoning it is important to contact us so that we can investigate the cause of your illness. If we find that a food business is associated with the infection we can arrange for an officer to visit the premises and, if necessary, take action to improve standards. This could help prevent other people suffering from food poisoning.
Further information can be found at: www.food.gov.uk/science/microbiology (external link)
If you require any further information please contact the Food and Safety Team
Last updated 7 January 2016