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Disease control

Although food poisoning is the most common deseise area, we also investigate other illnesses such as dysentery, hepatitis and typhoid.

We trace the source, by interviewing both the people who are ill and their contacts, and try to ensure the diseases are not spread. This sometimes means we have to stop people going to work and children under five years old from attending nursery.

For further information call the Food Safety Team on 01509 634656 or refer to the advice sheets below.

If you have suffered food poisoning you should not go to work whilst you are ill. You can normally return to work 48 hours after you have recovered.

If you are a food handler, nurse, work with young children or the elderly, you should inform your employer of your illness immediately. Ask us for advice if you are unsure.


Common causes of food poisoning

Certain viruses are becoming increasingly associated with food poisoning, Salmonella and Campylobacter being the two most common bacteria causing most illness in this country. They are similar as they both cause severe stomach pain and diarrhoea for up to a couple of weeks.

Once the diarrhoea has gone with Campylobacter so has the illness, but it is possible to continue to pass Salmonella bacteria long after. People who get it may feel well, but can pass it on to others when handling food.


Case of food poisoning

If you think you have suffered from food poisoning you should contact your GP as soon as possible. They will ask you details about your illness and about recent food that you may eaten. Symptoms of food poisoning may include one or more of these:

  • Sickness
  • Diarrhoea and stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Headaches

Children under five years, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with reduced immunity are more likely to suffer severe symptoms. If you are suffering from diarrhoea your GP may ask you for a stool specimen to try and find out what type of food poisoning you may have.

Your GP will then notify the local authority and you may get a telephone call from an environmental health officer. If you have any food leftovers which may have made you ill, you should put them in a clean, sealed container and keep them in the fridge, separate from other food.

The environmental health officer may arrange for this food to be tested for bugs which cause food poisoning. If you think a food business is involved, we will ask for details and may carry out an inspection.


Avoiding food poisoning

  • Buy from a reputable source
  • Follow the "use by" dates printed on the wrappers of perishable foods
  • Make sure deep frozen food is hard and in a sealed pack. Mushy packs indicate inadequate freezing
  • Always place raw meat below cooked foods to prevent blood drip
  • Keep raw and cooked foods separate at all times
  • Always wash your hands regularly, particularly after visiting the toilet and after handling raw foods and after handling pets and animals
  • People suffering diarrhoea or any food poisoning infection should have their own towel and it is best not to prepare or handle food for others until you have recovered with no symptoms for 48 hours
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