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We investigate cases of food poisoning to identify the source, prevent further spread, and provide advice to the public.

We take cases from GPs, the public, businesses and other local authorities once a food poisoning notification is received.

Information we need

We will ask questions regarding:

  • What and where you have eaten prior to your illness
  • Details of your symptoms
  • Whether you have been on holiday abroad
  • Whether or not your GP has taken a faecal sample and
  • Whether anybody else you ate with also experienced any symptoms. We may request that person to provide a faecal sample

Confirming food poisoning

The only way to confirm food poisoning is by submitting a faecal specimen to a laboratory for testing. You can request this kit from your GP. 

Without confirmation from the laboratory there is limited follow up action that we can take. To determine the source of the food poisoning we need to have the type of food poisoning confirmed. Any suspect food that you might have will not be tested at a laboratory until a positive result is obtained from the faecal specimen.

Symptoms usually start within a few days of eating the contaminated food and there are other viral infections which have similar symptoms to food poisoning and sometimes food prepared in the home is responsible.

Dealing with symptoms

If you are a food handler or health care/nursery worker, who has direct contact or contact through serving food with patients or people in whom an intestinal infection would have serious consequences, you cannot return to work until you are symptom-free for 48 hours. You must also inform your employer of your symptoms.

If you are a parent or guardian of a child aged five years or under or a child or adult who is unable to implement personal care you are advised to keep them home until they have also been symptom-free for 48 hours.

Food poisoning outbreaks

There may be a food poisoning outbreak if a number of people ate at the same venue and have the same symptoms. We will investigate the outbreak. This will involve:

  • Interviewing people who are ill
  • Interviewing others who ate at the venue but did not have symptoms
  • Taking faecal and food samples (if appropriate) and
  • Inspecting the venue

Food safety inspection

If there is enough evidence implicating a food premises within the area as a possible source of the outbreak, we may decide to carry out a food safety inspection.

How to report

To report food poisoning you should make a complaint about food or a food business.

Updated: 20 October 2022

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