Food poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. It is not usually serious and most people get better within a few days without treatment. We are often contacted by people who suspect they have food poisoning that they link to a restaurant or takeaway where they last ate. In truth, food poisoning normally takes at least 12 hours from the consumption of food for diarrhoeal symptoms to manifest and, in some circumstances, symptoms can take several days to start. If you are suffering from diarrhoea or sickness and you think you have food poisoning, you should visit your GP. They can give you medical advice and treatment and organise for a stool sample to be taken from you. This will allow the type of infection you are suffering from to be identified, Identification of the infection is crucial to pinpointing the possible cause of your illness and without this it is difficult to start an investigation into your illness.

If just one person suspects they have food poisoning it is not always relevant for us to investigate, but if more than one person has become ill, it is important to let us know.

You will need to provide:

  • the name and address of the food business
  • full details of when and what you ate and drank including the date and time
  • the symptoms, and when they started
  • if you ate as part of a group, any others suffering from the same symptoms
  • if you contacted the business, the name of the contact and what action they have already taken
  • your email address in case we need to contact you

Whilst you are symptomatic (for example, diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature), you may be infectious to others. It is against the law to work in any food handling area if you are known to be, or suspected to be suffering from, or to be a carrier of a disease which is likely to be transmitted through food. For further guidance visit the Food Standards Agency fitness for work (external link). If your job involves handling food, or working with vulnerable people, you should tell your employer. It is recommended that you avoid handling food for 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

The council's commercial team food officers are responsible for investigating the source of, and controlling the spread of notifiable diseases. If your report is selected for further investigation, we will investigate the business that sold you the food. When we inspect, we will make sure that:

  • the food hygiene in the buildings used to store, sell, and offer the food meets the standards set by law
  • the quality of food meets these standards
  • the food suppliers label their food properly

If the business does not meet legal standards, we can send a letter telling the owner to make specific improvements or, in more serious cases, we can take legal action.

Listed below are some leaflets which provide useful advice and guidance on the common illnesses we deal with. For further information, please contact us at, or telephone  01353 665555.