When one or more persons become ill with sickness and/or diarrhoea it may be symptoms of food borne illness, a viral infection or some other cause. The most effective way of finding out whether it is food poisoning is to provide a faecal sample for testing. Whilst this is unpleasant it is very useful in identifying whether a food poisoning bug is to blame.
It may not be due to your last meal
It is common to assume that gastrointestinal illness occurs soon after a 'suspect' meal, however whilst some causes of food poisoning have incubation periods measured in a few hours most take days to cause symptoms.
Food is not always the cause
The most common forms of food poisoning generally result in illness characterised by diarrhoea and/or vomiting. However, the majority of cases of sickness are caused by a virus, which is spread from person to person, and not through food.
What to do if you suspect you have food poisoning
- Visit your GP, and submit the sample according to your GP instruction.
- If you handle food in the course of your work, inform your employer immediately and refrain from work until you have not experienced any symptoms for a 48 hour period.
- Avoid passing the infection by washing your hands thoroughly after using the toilet.
- If you think your symptoms may be caused by food poisoning, you can notify Environmental Health by completing our online food poisoning questionnaire.
Report your illness:
- To notify Environmental Health and complete the online food poisoning questionnaire click here.
What happens next:
- If you have submitted a stool sample via your GP the laboratory is required to notify the Environmental Health Department if there is a positive result.
- If you have submitted our Environmental Health food poisoning questionnaire using the link above, the Environmental Health Department may contact you to obtain further information if there is evidence to suggest your illness may be linked to a food business.
- If you are a food handler, work with children under 5 or the elderly, you should abstain from work until 48 hours after your symptoms cease.
- Children under 5 should be kept away from nurseries until 48 hours after their symptoms cease.
More information can be found on Public Health England’s website by clicking here.