Food poisoning

Our Food Safety team plays a key role in reducing the spread of infectious disease by:

  • inspecting food premises to make sure food is handled safely and bacterial growth is kept to a minimum
  • taking samples of food for analysis to ensure that it is safe to eat
  • visiting people suffering with food poisoning in an attempt to identify the source and giving advice on preventing its spread.

The risk of food poisoning can be reduced by following good hygiene practices.

Read more on the NHS page about preventing food poisoning and on the Food Standards Agency food poisoning pages.

What we can't do

  • We can't provide specific medical advice for individual cases or comment on any prescribed medication.
  • We don't carry out medical examinations: contact your family doctor.
  • We don't apportion blame or take civil action; you're advised to contact a solicitor for legal advice.

Investigating outbreaks

We investigate outbreaks of food poisoning and certain infectious diseases referred to us by the local health authority. Hospitals and family doctors can take enforcement action where appropriate.

Common food poisoning

Bacillus cereus

  • Found in cereals, herbs, spices, dust, soil and dried foods such as rice.
  • Can cause vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

Download our guide to bacillus food poisoning [PDF]

Campylobacter

  • Most common cause of food poisoning and gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestine) in this country. 
  • Often spread by consuming contaminated food, water or unpasteurised milk.

Download our guide to campylobacter [PDF]
Visit the Food Standards Agency pages about Campylobacter

Clostridium difficile

  • Found in animal and human excreta, soil, dust, insects and raw meat.
  • Can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Download our guide to clostridium difficile [PDF]
Visit the Public Health England pages about chlostridium difficile
Visit the NHS pages about clostridium difficile, which includes a video guide

Dysentery

  • Caught through contact with an infected person and contaminated food - especially water or milk. It can cause diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps and vomiting.

Visit the NHS pages about dysentery

E coli

  • Found in raw meat, especially in undercooked beef, or infected milk or water. 
  • Most strains are harmless but some can cause food poisoning.
  • Spread by eating contaminated food such as undercooked beef burgers, raw vegetables washed or watered with contaminated water, or drinking untreated milk or dairy products.

Download our guide to E coli [PDF]
Visit the NHS pages about food poisoning

Hepatitis A

  • Found in shellfish, human faeces, blood, urine and contaminated water. 
  • Can cause fever, malaise, tiredness, nausea, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Download our guide to hepatitis A [PDF]
Visit the Health Protection Agency pages about hepatitis A
Visit the NHS pages about hepatitis A

Listeria

  • A rare infection caused by listeria bacteria - found in rotting vegetable matter, sewage, soil, water, farm animals, domestic pets and humans. 
  • Most cases are caused by the consumption of infected food.
  • Unlike other food poisoning bacteria, listeria is a potential hazard in chilled food since it can grow at refrigeration temperatures below 5┬║C. The foods that cause most outbreaks are prepared salads, pat├®, ready meals, and ripened soft cheeses.

Read the Health Protection Agency listeria information
Visit the Food Standards Agency pages about Listeria
Visit the NHS pages about listeriosis, which includes a video guide

Salmonella

  • One of the most common causes of food poisoning. 
  • Found in raw meat, milk, eggs, poultry, pets (especially rodents and terrapins), sewage and tainted water. 
  • Can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Download our guide to salmonella [PDF]

Visit the Public Health England pages about Salmonella

Contact us

Food safety management

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