Oxford City Council

PO Box 10, Oxford, OX1 1EN
Tel 01865 249811
Web http://www.oxford.gov.uk/

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Food Poisoning and Infectious Diseases


Environmental Health works closely with Public Health England to monitor and investigate cases of food poisoning and other infectious diseases in Oxford City. This work is carried out to identify potential sources of illness, to prevent recurrence of illness where possible and to better understand these diseases.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a general term applied to illnesses picked up from eating contaminated food or drinking water. Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • vomiting,
  • diarrhoea,
  • abdominal cramps,
  • nausea and/or fever.

The incubation period (time taken from eating the food to feeling unwell) varies with each type of organism and in some cases can be up to 10-15 days after consumption of the food. It is important to realise therefore, that the last meal you ate may not be the cause of your symptoms.

What causes food poisoning?

There are many different organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause upset stomachs. It is important to note that having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have food poisoning.

Norovirus - The most common cause of upset stomachs in the UK is from a viral infection called Norovirus. This is also known as the 'winter vomiting bug'. It only lasts for 24 to 48 hours and recovery is usually quick. It is not necessarily associated with eating contaminated food, and is easily passed from person to person.

Visit NHS Direct for more information on Norovirus.

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

If  you are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning, you should:

  • visit your GP (Doctor) as soon as possible and provide a faecal specimen for testing. This will show what organism caused your illness.
  • whilst you have symptoms you must remain at home and observe good standards of personal hygiene. This will help prevent spread to other family members.
  • If you are a food handler, or work with the elderly, young children or ill people, DO NOT return to work until you have medical clearance.

How do I report a case of food poisoning?

Please contact us on 01865 249811 or report it on line using the form below:

Report It iconReport suspected food poisoning online

How we investigate food poisoning

The aim of our investigation is to:

  • try and identify the source of the illness, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire.
  • investigate any commercial premises such as restaurants or cafes if implicated in your illness.
  • prevent the further spread of infection, especially when dealing with young children or people who work with food. This may involve giving advice or excluding people from work.

We are unable to carry out a formal investigation if you have not seen your GP and submitted a faecal specimen for analysis.

Further Information

The Food Standards Agency and NHS Choices website give more information on food poisoning


Page last updated 3 July 2013

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