Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating food contaminated with harmful bacteria (such as salmonella) or viruses (such as norovirus).
Food poisoning is a notifiable infectious disease; if we receive an infectious disease notification from your GP we may write to you or contact you directly by telephone to complete a surveillance questionnaire.
Symptoms of food poisoning
The following symptoms usually begin one to five days after eating contaminated food:
- Feeling sick
- Vomiting (sickness)
- Stomach cramps
For more information about symptoms see NHS Choices - Food poisoning.
If you want more detailed information on a specific illness please visit the GOV.UK website.
If you are experiencing these symptoms you should stay off work until you have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.
This is particularly important for the following groups who are at higher risk of spreading infection:
- food handlers involved with unwrapped or ready to eat food
- staff of health care facilities in contact with food or patients
- children aged below 5 years attending nurseries, playgroups etc.
- older children and adults who may find it difficult to carry out good personal hygiene
Please note: For certain more dangerous infections you may require clearance before returning to work or a high risk setting. The officer will discuss this with you on a case by case basis.
If you'd like us to investigate
If you think you've contracted food poisoning from one of Reigate & Banstead’s food businesses and would like us to investigate, please see your GP first who will arrange a faecal sample. If this is positive for a notifiable food poisoning organism your GP will automatically tell us.
There are many illnesses that have similar symptoms to food poisoning, so we'll only investigate if we receive formal confirmation that your illness was caused by a food poisoning bacteria.
The results will state what has caused your illness. With this information, we can start an investigation.
Please note that if you are not willing (or unable) to submit a sample we will not be able to take any further action, as we will have no evidence to proceed further. We will, however, record the details you give us in case we notice any patterns in these reports and you can report suspected food poisoning to us via The Food Standards Agency website.
What happens next?
If no food poisoning bacteria are found in your sample, your symptoms will be associated with another source, for example a virus or a different medical condition.
If the results show that you have food poisoning, we will take a food history from you so that we have a full record of all the food that you ate up to 10 days before you became ill. This will include food prepared and eaten within the home as well as food consumed at restaurants, takeaways etc.
If your sample results and food history show that your illness could be linked to a food premises in Reigate and Banstead, we will investigate this further. If the evidence suggests you may have contracted your illness from premises outside of the Reigate and Banstead area, we will liaise with the relevant local authority on your behalf.