Public Health England have a duty to inform Environmental Health of any cases of food poisoning, infections or other diseases which may be spread by food or water.
If you think your illness has been caused by food from a restaurant or other food business, the local environmental health department needs to know so it can investigate the business in question. If the environmental health officers find a problem with the business's food hygiene practices, and get the business to improve them, this could help prevent other people suffering from food poisoning.
All persons who have become ill due to suspected food poisoning should submit a faecal specimen to their GP to identify the bacteria that has made them ill.
What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning occurs from consuming contaminated food or water with sufficiently high numbers of bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals. The most common source of food poisoning is from harmful bacteria which are tiny organisms that cannot be seen, smelt or tasted.
What are the main Types of Food Poisoning?
Bacterial - Pathogens which are harmful and cause food poisoning
Chemical - This cause of illness is rare. Contamination can be from Lead, Copper or careless use from cleaning chemicals.
Poisonous Plants - This cause of illness is rare and includes fungi and poisonous plants
Virus – Gastro intestinal illness, are increasingly attributed to these microscopic pathogens these include Norwalk virus as a common example. Viruses do not depend upon any kind of food for survival all food is susceptible to contamination by viruses. Typical incubation period is 24-48 hours, symptoms last 24-48 hours. Person to person spread is common while symptoms last.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of food poisoning can vary, depending on what has caused it.
Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, and sometimes fever.
Occasionally, food poisoning can be very serious and even cause death. So it's important to prevent food poisoning with good food hygiene and personal hygiene.
What Should I Do?
There are three main things to consider when you have food poisoning:
Rehydration - drink plenty of fluids and perhaps use rehydration powders available from pharmacies
Medical assistance - if you are concerned about your health or the health of someone else, contact the NHS 111 service or your GP for advice (especially in the case of pregnant women, elderly people, children and people who are already ill)
Reporting - if you think that your illness was caused by food prepared outside the home, report the incident to your local environmental health service
When someone swallows bacteria that cause food poisoning, there is a delay (incubation period) before symptoms begin. This is because most bacteria that cause food poisoning need time to multiply in the intestine.
The length of the incubation period depends on the type of bacteria and how many are swallowed. It could be hours or days.
Look in Related Documents for Fact sheets on food poisoning.
– Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group
www.hpa.org.uk – Health Protection Agency
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-health - Department of Health
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Environmental Services Division
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