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Food poisoning

Who is at risk and how to prevent food poisoning

 Who is at risk?

 Everyone has the potential to contract food poisoning, but some are at higher risk. These are:

  • pregnant women
  • those who are immuno-compromised

 Special risk groups

 You may be in a 'Special Risk Group' when it comes to food poisoning. These are:

  • ​food handlers - if your work involves touching unwrapped foods, which will be eaten without further cooking  
  • health care staff - who have direct contact (or contact through serving food, drink or medicines) with frail or vulnerable groups of patients
  • children under five - who attend pre-school, nursery or playgroups 
  • older children and adults who find it difficult to maintain personal hygiene

Advice if you're ill

If you have symptoms of food poisoning phone your doctor. Your doctor may ask you to submit a stool sample for formal examination, so they can find out what food poisoning you may have.

Those working with food or vulnerable groups should contact their employer, and remain off work whilst they are suffering symptoms. Your employer will require you to have a period of 48 hours clear of any symptoms (this may be longer dependent on the company's sickness policy).  

 The causes

 Food poisoning can be caused by:

  • food being prepared too far in advance
  • poor cooking
  • not defrosting foods properly before cooking
  • storing foods incorrectly (for example, out in the open allowing bacteria to multiply)
  • cross contamination during food preparation and service
  • poor hygiene practices of those handling food

 Preventing the spread

 If you, or a member of your family, are suffering from food poisoning, we recommend you:

  • always wash your hands after contact with the sick person, before handling food or after using the toilet
  • avoid using the same towels as someone who is suffering from symptoms
  • clear up any soiling incidents immediately (wash with hot soapy water and disinfect the area)
  • clean door handles, toilet flushers, taps and toilet seats after use  
  • remember to disinfect the toilet bowl frequently
  • consider using disposable cleaning materials

Reducing the risk

 To help prevent food poisoning you must:

  • always wash your hands before handling food, after using the toilet, blowing your nose or handling pets
  • keep your food preparation surfaces and utensils clean and disinfected
  • keep your raw foods in the bottom of your fridge, away from foods you can eat without further cooking
  • ensure your fridge and freezers are operating properly  
  • check the 'use by' dates on foods, and don't eat any which are beyond their expiry
  • avoid eating foods that contain uncooked eggs
  • keep your pets away from food and food preparation surfaces
  • always defrost your food thoroughly where instructed