Food Poisoning is an illness which occurs after eating or drinking anything that is contaminated by germs or sometimes chemicals. You can only be sure you have food poisoning if you have a sample tested by your doctor. There are viral infections that cause similar symptoms to food poisoning that are usually spread by person-to-person contact.
Symptoms depend on the type of germ or chemical, but diarrhoea, sickness, stomach pains and sometimes fever are the most common. There are links to further information below.
What to do if you think you have suffered food poisoning?
First consult your GP to receive the appropriate treatment. The GP should also ask you to submit a specimen of your faeces so that the specific organism, which is causing your illness, can be identified. If a food poisoning bacteria is identified by the laboratory the results will be reported to us. Environmental Health are told of relevant cases of food poisoning that require our investigation by laboratory reports from the Public Health England.
We may investigate complaints direct from members of the public who suspect they have suffered food poisoning. However without the results of a sample this may not be possible as there are many things that can cause similar symptoms. However if you are aware of a number of people with similar illness which may be food poisoning eg guests at a particular function or the residents of a residential home etc, please contact us at the address below.
If I am suffering from food poisoning, is there anything I should do whilst I am ill?
- Wash your hands with soap in warm running water and dry thoroughly, especially when preparing food and after using the toilet.
- Avoid close contact with other people until the diarrhoea has stopped.
- Clean toilet seats, flush handles, door handles and taps frequently with a hot soapy water and disinfectant solution.
- Make sure everyone has their own towel and flannel. Soiled clothes and bedding should be washed on their own in the washing machine on the hottest cycle.
- Avoid preparing food for other people.
You can't tell if food is contaminated so even food which looks and tastes alright can cause food poisoning. To help avoid food poisoning in the future make sure you -
- Store raw and cooked food apart and keep raw meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
- Do not wash raw meat or poultry as this spread germs around the kitchen
- Wash raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly before cooking
- Use separate utensils and chopping boards for raw and cooked foods.
- Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, so that it is piping hot, as this will destroy germs
- Cool food quickly and put it in the fridge as soon as possible or keep it hot in the oven if you want to eat it later.
- Use 'Lion' branded eggs (or equivalent) if making food with raw eggs eg mayonnaise, mousses and desserts and do not drink unpasteurized (green top) milk.
- Keep kitchen surfaces and equipment, knives, chopping boards, and dish cloths clean
- Keep pets and pet food away from food, work surfaces and utensils.
Personal hygiene is also important
- Do not smoke or eat when handling food.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, before preparing and eating food, after handling raw food, after going to the toilet or changing a baby’s nappy, after contact with pets or other animals and working in the garden.
- Do not drink untreated water from lakes, rivers or streams
More information on infectious disease and food poisoning is available at the following external websites:
NHS Choices website for advice on how to avoid food poisoning
Merlin House, Merlin Way, Ilkeston. DE74RA
Telephone 0115 907 2244 ext 3820