Food Poisoning and Infectious Diseases

We investigate notifications of certain infectious diseases along with our colleagues at Public Health England. 

The aim of any investigation is to try to identify a cause and help limit any further spread of an illness.

On this page:

Make a food poisoning complaint

If you have food poisoning and think it has been caused by a restaurant or other food outlet, you can report it to us.

After consideration we will investigate and, where necessary, ensure that the business involved improves its standards of hygiene to prevent it happening again.

A complaint can be made online via the Food Standards Agency complaint portal using the link below.

You can also report complaints to us using our contact details below.

Complaints and notifications

When a notification or complaint about alleged food poisoning is made, we will contact the person with the symptoms to find out more details.

It is important to remember that food poisoning symptoms can be caused by other problems or infections, for example certain viruses can be picked up directly from other people or contaminated surfaces.

The incubation period (time taken from eating the food to feeling unwell) varies with each type of organism. In some cases, it can be up to 10 to 15 days after consumption of the food. Therefore, the last meal you ate may not be the cause of your symptoms.

Vulnerable people are more seriously affected by food borne illness. These include:

  • babies
  • young children
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • people with pre-existing illnesses
  • people with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of food-borne illness

Food-borne illness can spread quickly. This is partly because everyone in the family could have eaten the same food, and partly because the bacteria may be picked up by close family contact.

Viruses can also cause illness similar to food poisoning, and they also spread very quickly.

If you suspect you are suffering food poisoning, visit your doctor as soon as possible. You may be asked to submit a sample for examination. Samples are useful as they might show which food-borne illness you are suffering from or could rule out a food-poising organism. Viruses can also be detected.

Consult your doctor immediately if either:

  • symptoms are prolonged or severe (for example, bloody diarrhoea)
  • the person affected is a baby, elderly or has an existing illness or condition.

Prevent the spread of illness

If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning, follow the advice below to try and prevent the spread of the illness.

  • Wash your hands after contact with the sick person, and before handling food.
  • Do not use the same towel or face cloth as someone who is suffering with illness.
  • Clear up soiling accidents straight away, wash with hot soapy water and disinfect with a disinfectant or bleach.
  • Disinfect door and toilet handles, taps and the toilet seat after use. Disinfect the toilet bowl frequently.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Food handlers and care workers

If the ill person is a food handler or healthcare/nursery worker with highly susceptible patients, they cannot return to work until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. They must also inform their employer of their symptoms.

Children aged under five years, or individuals unable to maintain good standards of personal hygiene, should not return until they have also been symptom-free for 48 hours.

Causes of food-borne illness

The main causes of food poisoning and food-borne illness are:

  • poor hygiene
  • preparing foods too far in advance
  • not cooking foods properly
  • not defrosting foods correctly
  • storing foods incorrectly (such as in warm temperatures) so that bacteria can grow quickly
  • cross-contamination of foods after cooking
  • infection from people handling foods incorrectly.

People often become unwell due to contracting a virus such as norovirus. The symptoms, such as vomiting, are often mistaken for food poisoning.

Illnesses of this type are often associated with particularly violent sickness, and the rapid onset of symptoms. Most people begin to feel better within 24 hours.

Food-borne illness and infectious disease types

There are many types of food-borne illness caused by different bacterium and viruses. The Food Standards Agency and NHS websites provide information on the most common, as listed below.

Contact details

For further information about food poisoning and infectious disease, contact us using the details below.

Email: eho.office@nfdc.gov.uk

Phone: 023 8028 5411

Environmental Health
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
Lyndhurst
Hampshire
SO43 7PA

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