Food Poisoning

What is Food Poisoning?

Many people think food poisoning is just caused by bacteria and often blame the last meal they ate. This is usually not the case as a lot of sickness and diarrhoea is caused by viruses and most food poisoning bugs take a day or two to start having an effect.

In Torfaen, most of our food poisoning cases suffer from the bacteria Campylobacter with a small minority of cases suffering from Salmonella, E.coli etc. Thankfully in 2009-2010, all cases were sporadic (one-off cases) or part of a small outbreak within the family. All other outbreaks were a result of viruses.

Other forms of food poisoning type illnesses also cause sickness and diarrhoea such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia or Legionella which are commonly found in the environment, e.g. water, manure, pets etc.

If a number of people ate at the same venue and have the same food poisoning-type symptoms, this may be due to a food poisoning, environmental or viral outbreak. There are two main ways we can find out about potential cases, i.e.

  • Anyone suffering from food poisoning or a virus can contact us, and we will then investigate as appropriate as it may be due to a problem at a food premises
  • Our routine investigation of food poisoning cases may show a pattern that suggests a particular premises or food may be involved

What to do if you think a food premises caused your illness

If you believe you are suffering from food poisoning, you should contact your GP who should arrange for a sample to be taken which will be sent to the laboratory. The laboratory will then inform your GP if you have food poisoning.

You may also wish to contact us, particularly if you are aware of other people who ate at the same premises or ate the same food who are also ill, and we will then investigate as appropriate. We always strongly recommend that anybody believing that they or a family member are suffering from food poisoning should visit their GP so that samples can be taken. Without this, your case will be treated as ‘suspected food poisoning.’

Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Investigation

If you have suffered from food poisoning or we think that a food poisoning outbreak may have occurred, our investigation into the outbreak will involve:

  • Interviewing people who are ill
  • Interviewing others who ate at the venue but didn't have symptoms
  • Taking samples if appropriate
  • Inspecting the implicated venue

If there is enough evidence implicating a food premises within the area as a possible source of the outbreak, we may decide

  • to carry out a food hygiene inspection, taking informal or formal action based on what we find
  • to instigate our Outbreak Control Plan, particularly if the outbreak affects a lot of people an/or more than one food premises.

Common Food Poisoning Bacteria and Illnesses

Common food poisoning bacteria include:-

  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • Listeria
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Bacillus cereus
  • E.coli O157
  • Shigella
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Norovirus
Last Modified: 04/04/2022
For more information contact:

The Food, Health & Safety Team

Tel: 01633 648009

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