Renfrewshire Council

Food poisoning

Renfrewshire Council's Business Regulation team control and investigate food poisoning cases in partnership with the NHS.

Types of food poisoning

Food poisoning occurs where certain harmful germs are introduced into the body though food.

These germs may themselves be poisonous and, if present in sufficient numbers may cause a short sharp illness a few hours after eating contaminated food.

Vomiting is the most common symptom in this case.

Some germs do not produce their poisons until they are in the body, and due to the time taken for the poison to be produced symptoms may not occur for several days after the food is eaten.

The last meal you ate may not be the cause of your symptoms.

Diarrhoea is a more typical symptom of this type of food poisoning.

Main causes of food poisoning

  • Preparing food too far in advance
  • Not cooking food properly
  • Not defrosting food thoroughly before cooking
  • Storing food incorrectly so that bacteria can grow
  • Cross contamination of foods after cooking
  • Infection from food handlers due to poor hygiene

If you suspect you have food poisoning

  • Contact your doctor immediately and ask for a stool sample to be tested
  • make sure you practice good personal hygiene
  • Wash your hands often especially after using the toilet and before handling food
  • Drink plenty of fluids

If you believe your illness has been caused by a food business in Renfrewshire, please contact us immediately so that we can decide whether to visit, inspect and investigate the business concerned.

If the officers find a problem with food hygiene and get the business to improve, this could help other people to avoid food poisoning.

Investigation procedures may include:

  • Interview with cases and contacts
  • Taking samples of food or water
  • Taking faecal samples
  • Inspecting suspect premises
  • Giving advice and guidance to cases and/or contacts
  • Excluding people from work

Please remember you cannot see, smell or taste the bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Technically, you're not suffering from food poisoning until you have provided a faecal sample which has been examined in a laboratory and proved to contain food poisoning bacteria.

'48 hour' bugs are very common and also cause vomiting and occasionally diarrhoea. These are usually caused by viruses in the environment.

These viruses are highly infectious and can occur at any time of year. The most prominent symptom is projectile vomiting although nausea, diarrhoea, headache, fever and muscle aches also occur.

Transmission is usually from person to person and anyone affected should remain off work until 48 hours after symptoms stop.