Food poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness caused by bacteria or other toxins in food.

It can cause sickness, diarrhoea  and stomach cramps, and can happen when food hasn't been stored, handled or cooked properly. 

We investigate cases of food poisoning to find out what caused it and any infected contacts, especially where there has been an outbreak of  food poisoning or other gastrointestinal infection.

If you think you have food poisoning

We need to know if food that is sold or served causes food poisoning.

Your GP is legally obliged to tell us if you have suffered from a notifiable disease (including food poisoning) so that we can identify the source of infection and prevent it  spreading.

Members of the public can also contact us direct if they think they have been infected although we cannot investigate unless a doctor has confirmed food poisoning.

If you think you have food poisoning, please contact your GP as soon as possible. They can arrange to test a sample of your poo (a 'stool' sample) to find out what is causing your illness. 

You will need to tell us where you bought the food from, or the place you ate - such as the restaurant, café or mobile hot food takeaway. Please tell us the time you ate and the time symptoms started (it may not have been the last meal you ate that caused your illness). We also need to know what your symptoms are and, if you ate the meal with other people, whether anyone else has become ill.

Report a problem

You will need to tell us:

  • the name and address of the food business
  • full details of the problem and when it happened
  • details of your illness

Report a food problem

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What we can do

We will investigate to find out what has happened. This may involve visiting the food business, giving them advice on what they need to do and, if necessary, taking legal action against them. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to establish the cause of the food complaint or to collect sufficient evidence to take further action. 

What we can't do

We can only deal with problems that happened in our area. If you live in Chesterfield but bought the food somewhere else, you will need to report the problem to the council that covers that area. 

We do not get involved in any compensation claims. You must take this up yourself with the food business and the civil courts if necessary.

How to avoid food poisoning 

Here are a few tips to help avoid getting food poisoning at home: 

  • always buy food produce from a reputable and trustworthy source 
  • follow 'Use by' dates printed on the packaging of perishable foods 
  • make sure deep frozen food is hard and in a sealed pack - mushy packs indicate inadequate freezing 
  • always place raw meat below cooked foods i the fridge to prevent blood and juices dripping onto other food 
  • keep raw and cooked foods separate at all times 
  • wash your hands regularly, particularly after:
    • visiting the toilet
    • handling raw foods
    • handling pets and animals

If you have diarrhoea or any food poisoning infection, you should use your own towel to avoid spreading your germs. It is best not to prepare or handle food for others until you have recovered with no symptoms for 48 hours.

If you work in catering or in a caring setting (such as for children or the elderly) please inform your employer. 

You can find advice on some common household food safety questions and misconceptions on the Food Standards Agency website.

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Last updated on 06 April 2021