Food poisoning

You can get food poisoning after eating or drinking food contaminated by bacteria. Although most bacteria are harmless, a few, are harmful and cause illness.

Food poisoning symptoms usually begin one to three days after eating contaminated food, these symptoms include:

  • feeling sick
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach cramps

If you think you have food poisoning you should visit your doctor and arrange to provide a stool specimen for testing.

Treating the illness

If you have diarrhoea don’t return to work or school for at least 48 hours after this has stopped.

You must tell your employer if you are a food handler, or nurse, or work with the young, sick or elderly. Read the staff illness fact sheet on the Food Standards Agency website about fitness to work.

Preventing the illness

You can find information and advice about how to prevent food poisoning on the NHS Choices website.

Report a suspected food poisoning