Environmental Health Departments have a statutory duty to investigate reported cases of food poisoning. If a case of food poisoning has been formally confirmed by a Doctor or hospital (by analysis of a faecal specimen) these details are passed to Environmental Health.
An Environmental Health Officer will then speak to the individual to try and determine the cause. This will involve taking a history of food consumed over the days prior to the onset of the food poisoning symptoms.
If the illness can be linked to food consumed in a commercial premises the local Environmental Health department will carry out an investigation of the business in question. If the Environmental Health Officers find a problem with the business’s food hygiene practices, they can then take action to ensure that they improve. This could therefore help prevent other people suffering from food poisoning.
Information on Gastrointestinal Infections
If you feel you have been affected by a food poisoning bacteria, please see your GP for confirmation testing.
PREVENTION OF FOOD POISONING
There are four main things to remember for good food hygiene – you should think about them whenever you are in the kitchen.
The 4 Cs
4. Cross Contamination
You can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria by observing good personal hygiene, keeping work surfaces, utensils etc clean.
It is important to wash your hands regularly, especially:
- After visiting the toilet;
- After handling raw foods;
- Before touching ready-to-eat food.
- Do not handle food when you are ill with stomach problems such as vomiting.
- Do not touch food if you have sores or cuts unless they are covered with a dressing.
Proper cooking kills food poisoning bacteria such as listeria, salmonella, E coli, campylobacter. It is important to cook food thoroughly, especially meat. Make sure it is cooked right through and piping hot in the middle.
It is very important to keep certain foods at the right temperature to prevent bacteria or toxins forming. Always look at the label on the packaging. If it says that the food should be refrigerated, make sure you keep it in the fridge.
If food that needs to be chilled is left standing at room temperature, food poisoning bacteria will grow and multiply to dangerous levels. Cooked leftovers should be cooled and put in the fridge as soon as possible. Putting food in shallow containers and dividing it into small portions will help it cool quicker.
4. CROSS CONTAMINATION
Cross contamination is the transfer of bacteria from raw foods to cooked, ready to eat foods i.e. raw food touches or drips onto cooked food. Cross contamination is one of the major causes of food poisoning.
To prevent cross contamination:
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw food.
- Keep raw and ready-to-eat food separate.
- Store raw meat in sealable containers at the bottom of the fridge.
- Use different chopping boards/work surfaces for raw food and ready-to-eat food.
- Clean knives and other utensils thoroughly after use with raw food.
Please contact your GP for testing, in the first instance, if you feel you have contracted a form of food poisoning.