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Investigation of Food Poisoning

This Department investigates suspected outbreaks or individual cases of food poisoning.

Such information is received in the following ways:

  • Contact from a person who has become ill
  • Notification from the Public Health Agency
  • A food business seeking advice
  • Contact with another Local Authority who had a large function in their area.

If a person is reported as suffering from a food poisoning bacteria, they will be interviewed to try to establish a likely source and a full food history will be taken of the last 72 hours.

If they have not already visited their doctor we will advise them to contact their doctor and to submit a faecal specimen to try to identify the bacteria causing the illness.

We may visit any premises suspected of having caused the illness.  The action taken may range from advice for that business to a possible prosecution depending upon what is found at the premises.  In certain cases illness can spread quickly, 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 (eg nursing the sick).  Viruses can also cause illness, similar to food poisoning and they also spread very quickly, usually because these can be spread through the air.

If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning it is recommended that you follow the advice below to try and limit the spread of the illness:

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

If you feel that you or a member of your family have suffered from food poisoning please contact the Food Team on 028 3031 3100.