Food poisoning is an illness, usually caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated by bacteria (germs) or the poisons that they produce. It can be caught from food eaten at home, at restaurants, or abroad.
If you think you have food poisoning from food from a business in Dudley, please contact us (details at bottom of this page).
The common symptoms associated with food poisoning include:-
These usually occur within 2 to 36 hours of consumption of the food, although with some types of food poisoning, illness may not occur for days or even weeks. The last thing eaten is not necessarily the cause of the food poisoning. The symptoms usually last between one and seven days, although this may be longer. All the time you have the symptoms, and in some cases for some time after, you can transmit the infection to other people if you are not careful.
Food poisoning is mainly caught from contaminated food. The common causes of food poisoning are:
Incorrect storage, handling, preparation and cooking of food can lead to food poisoning, in your own home as well as in food businesses. Unfortunately, contaminated food usually looks, smells and tastes fine, so you cannot tell that it is contaminated.
Take care with your hygiene and in particular, wash your hands thoroughly:
You generally you can return to work when your symptoms have cleared, unless the Environmental Health Service or your doctor tell you not to. Children should return to school 24 hours after the first normal stool, and nursery when their symptoms have cleared for 48 hours. However, food handlers suffering from food poisoning must report this matter to the Environmental Health Service or their employer, by law. If you:
work as a food handler
work in healthcare (e.g care home, nursing home, hospital)
work with the elderly
work with children under five years old
You must not return to work until you have checked with us, see bottom of this page.
Each type of food poisoning has a characteristic incubation period (the time it takes from consumption to symptoms) and predominant symptoms depending on the cause.
Food poisoning may be caused by:
Bacteria are the most common causes of food poisoning and usually an extremely large number of the bacteria are required to make people ill.
Viruses also cause cases of vomiting and diarrhoea. They do not multiply in food but a much smaller number is required to make people ill. Air-borne infection is common and can spread easily from person to person.
Food poisoning from chemicals is rare and usually results from accidental ingestion when poisonous chemicals are stored in unlabelled bottles or food is contaminated with chemicals or additives.
Metallic poisoning causes vomiting and abdominal pains and results from the contamination of food and drink by contact with metals. Poisonous plants/animals are again a rare form of food poisoning, particularly in commercial premises.
The Food & Occupational Safety Team conducts investigations into infectious diseases to ascertain how they were acquired and what risk the individual poses to the community. We work closely with Public Health England, test laboratories, hospitals, GPs and members of the public to ensure risk to the public is minimised.
Other sources of information on food poisoning include:
You can also contact us for advice about food poisoning using the contact details below.