Food poisoning

Good food hygiene standards in industry and the home are vital to prevent food borne illness.  If you've got food poisoning or a food related illness you should contact the Council immediately for advice.  In extreme circumstances food poisoning can result in death, usually due to health complications or infections, particularly in vulnerable people.

We will investigate instances of food poisoning to:

  • try to prevent the spread of illness within the community
  • establish possible cause(s)

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

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

Symptoms of food poisoning tend to include some or all of the following:

  • diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness

Tips for prevention
In order to prevent food poisoning you should do the following:

  • make sure that you cook food thoroughly to destroy harmful bacteria and follow the manufacturers' guidelines so that food is piping hot throughout before consumption
  • make sure that food prepared in advanced (eg buffet food) is kept refrigerated until it's needed and not left at room temperature
  • do not leave hot food to cool at room temperature for longer than one to one and a half hours. After this it should be transferred to the fridge
  • when reheating food make sure that it is piping hot throughout to kill any bacteria
  • after handling raw foods, you must wash surfaces, equipment and hands with anti-microbial soap and hot water before handling cooked foods in order to avoid cross contamination
  • it is important to wear clean clothing and to wash your hands before you prepare food
  • wash your hands after going to the toilet, after touching your mouth, nose or hair and after handling animals, this helps prevent the spread of harmful bacteria
  • check the 'Use by' dates on food and make sure that you use the food before the date expires
  • keep food preparation surfaces and utensils clean and disinfected
  • prepare and store raw meat and 'ready-to-eat' food separately
  • always keep raw and defrosting meat at the base of the refrigerator, below everything else
  • make sure that your refrigerator and freezer are operating properly.  The refrigerator should operate at 5°C or lower and the freezer at -18°C or lower

If you suspect you're suffering from food poisoning it's recommended that you visit your doctor as soon as possible.