Food poisoning and making a report
If you suspect that you are suffering from food poisoning
You must firstly consult a doctor for medical advice and maybe treatment.
You will need to provide details of your symptoms and when, where and what you ate including food consumed up to least 3 days before your symptoms started.
The doctor will ask you to submit a stool (faecal) sample that will need to be sent for microbiological examination. Submitting a stool sample will assist in identifying the organism that caused the problem. If food poisoning bacteria is confirmed, the results will be sent through to your doctor and your local council, after which you may be contacted by a Council Officer for further investigation.
Symptoms of food poisoning
Symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting however maybe caused by infections that are commonly spread from person to person such as airborne viral infections and therefore unrelated to foods or food businesses.
It is rare for symptoms to occur immediately after eating contaminated food and symptoms vary from hours to many days or weeks after consumption depending on the bacteria causing the illness. It may be difficult to establish the origin of an illness and therefore the last place a person ate outside the home may not be the source.
Reporting a food business – Allegation of food poisoning
If you are seeking compensation, a refund or personal injury claim then the department will not investigate the complaint. Your best course of action would be to write a letter of complaint to the restaurant, stating that you want your money back or instruct solicitors to act on your behalf.
Unfortunately many investigations find that, the origin of the illness turns out to have been caused by the cooking practices in the victim's own home.
Therefore implicating a food business as the source of a food poisoning is a serious allegation and the Council will need all of the information before carrying out an investigation into a premises.
This may include carrying out an inspection and taking food samples for examination. The ill person(s) may also be asked to provide a written statement detailing where they purchased the food and the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the complaint; we are unable to take legal action on a person(s) behalf if this is not provided.
What we will do
Brent’s Food Safety Team have the responsibly to investigate cases of food poisoning to establish possible sources and causes to prevent the risk of reoccurrences and spread to other family members or the rest of the community.
In the event of a food poisoning notification, we will normally contact the person(s) with the symptoms offering advice to prevent spread of the illness and/or to ask questions about the following;
- what food and from where had they eaten prior to illness
- whether there is any of the food remaining that might have made them ill
- details of their symptoms
- whether they have been abroad on holiday or travelled recently
- whether or not they had submitted a stool sample to their GP and received laboratory results
- whether they know anyone else that ate who also experienced any symptoms
- Details of any food businesses implicated and proof of sale
- Completion of a food poisoning questionnaire (submitted by the Council Officer).
We will take action if we can establish the following:
- Confirmed food poisoning as the source of illness.
- A public health risk such as an Outbreak where a number of unrelated persons are ill.
- A good chain of evidence such as where the food was bought or any relevant packaging
- Evidence that the company concerned has not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the problem.
Any formal action must also comply with the Council’s Enforcement Policy.