Report food poisoning
If you think you have food poisoning caused by food from a food business in the borough, please report it to us.
Alternatively, you can report food poisoning by telephoning our Customer Service Centre on 01256 844844 or by writing to:
Environmental Health Team
It is important to inform your doctor or an Environmental Health Officer if you:
- are a food handler whose work is connected with the preparation or handling of food and drink
- are a health care or nursery member of staff or other staff who have direct contact or contact through serving food, with highly susceptible patients or person to whom food poisoning would have particularly serious consequences
Doctors are required by law to report either confirmed or suspected food poisoning.
People suffering from suspected food poisoning feel sure that the cause is the last meal they have eaten, especially if this happens to be a meal at a restaurant or takeaway. Food poisoning bacteria can take quite a long time before actually making us ill, on average one to two days or more after we have eaten them. Sometimes it can take up to 11 days before showing any signs of illness.
The symptoms of food poisoning can vary but generally include some or all of the following:
- vomiting (sickness)
- stomach pains
What happens next?
We will respond to all cases by telephoning the affected person and asking for a lot of details about their illness, including the dates and times of symptoms, what they have eaten, their job and details of people in the household. This information can be vital in preventing further spread of the infection. You may also be asked to provide a stool specimen if you have not already done so.
If there is evidence that the illness is related to a specific restaurant or takeaway in the area, we will want to discuss the matter in detail with you. In most cases it is very difficult to connect an event of illness to a particular business. If a whole group of people, at a party or wedding reception, for example, are all affected by the same symptoms at the same time it is easier to link illnesses with the food they have eaten.
If you require information on a specific food related illness please refer to the Public Health England website.
What are the main causes of food poisoning?
- Food prepared too far in advance and then kept at room temperature
Food poisoning bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature. Any food which has been prepared in advance must be refrigerated in order to slow bacterial growth.
This may be dangerous as any harmful bacteria in the food will not be destroyed.
- Not reheating food to high enough temperatures
Reheated foods are those that have been previously cooked, allowed to cool and then reheated before they are eaten. Some bacteria can survive the cooking process and will grow if the food isn't cooled quickly. Try not to reheat leftovers if possible.
- Cross contamination from raw food to ready to eat food
Food poisoning bacteria may be naturally present in raw food, especially raw meat and poultry. If the bacteria can get onto food that is not going to be cooked before it is eaten and is 'ready to eat', food poisoning can result. Cross contaminated can result from poor storage whereby the juices from raw meat are allowed to drip on to cooked food, in other ways such as a chopping board, work surface, dirty dishcloths or food handler's hands.
- Failure to keep hot food above 63ºC
Handling food at a hot temperature ensures that harmful bacteria will not grow.
- Poor personal hygiene and infected food handlers
Poor personal hygiene can result in food becoming contaminated with bacteria. Additionally, persons suffering from infections such as food poisoning and septic cuts can contaminate the food. It is important to remember that anyone who has been in contact with someone suffering from food poisoning can pass on bacteria, even though they show no symptoms themselves.
Environmental Health team
If you have an enquiry about environmental health, send a message to the Environmental Health team