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Food poisoning

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a general term applied to illnesses picked up from eating contaminated food or drinking water.

It is not usually serious, and most people get better within a few days without treatment. Babies and young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people who have a weakened immune system are more at risk from food poisoning.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

The symptoms of food poisoning usually begin within one to two days after eating contaminated food, although they may start at any point between a few hours and several weeks later. Symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Headache

The time it takes from eating contaminated food and becoming unwell (called the incubation period) varies between each type of organism, and in some cases can be up to 14 days. It is therefore important to realise that the last meal that you ate may not actually be the cause of your symptoms.

There are many different types of organisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses, parasites) that can cause stomach upsets, including vomiting and diarrhoea. If you suffer from these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have food poisoning.

What should I do if I think I am suffering from food poisoning?

If you think that you are suffering from food poisoning, please check the NHS advice on food poisoning or speak to your GP. You may be asked to provide a specimen.

If you work in a food business, you must let your manager or supervisor know immediately. If you are not a food handler but work with vulnerable groups such as elderly or young people you should let your manager or supervisor know.

You can report suspected food poisoning online

If you think the food poisoning is linked to a business within Teignbridge, let us know by making a food safety complaint. We’ll treat your personal details and any information you provide us with in the strictest confidence.

We will investigate the matter and make a decision on what action is appropriate and will contact you.

Food safety at home

When you are suffering from food poisoning symptoms, it is common to assume that it was caused by the last thing that you ate. However, in most cases it could actually be something you ate several days earlier, or not even food-related at all!

Most people assume that food poisoning is most likely to come from restaurants, cafes and takeaways. Yet 80% of food poisoning actually comes from the home.

When this content has been updated

Last updated 27 July 2022