Food Safety Top Tips - Foodborne Diseases

What is Foodborne Disease?

Foodborne diseases cover a range of illnesses caused by eating contaminated food /drink. They are caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites produced by bacteria in the food before consumption you eat them. The more common bugs to the UK include E coli and Salmonella. Infections caught abroad may include cholera, typhoid and dysentery.


What are the symptoms of Foodborne Disease?

The more common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. The precise symptoms will vary depended on the type of the illness. Symptoms do not develop at once; there is usually a delay of a few hours or days after the contaminated item is swallowed.


How can you catch Foodborne Diseases?

Foodborne diseases are caught by eating contaminated food/water. They can also be caught from a person who is already infected.


How are Foodborne Diseases diagnosed?

Diagnosis will depend on testing a stool sample.


How to treat Foodborne Disease?

Treatment will depend on the cause of the illness and the person’s symptoms. Extra fluids are important, especially if the person is suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting.


When can you go back to work/school?

The following people should remain at home until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped:

  • Staff working in the food and catering industries.
  • Staff of healthcare facilities. Especially those looking after or serving food to infants or the elderly.
  • Children aged less than five years old who attend nurseries or playgroups.
  • Older children or adults who find it difficult to implement good standards of personal hygiene e.g. Those with learning disabilities or special needs, or in situations where hygienic arrangements are unreliable.


How is further spread of Foodborne Diseases prevented?

Foodborne diseases are notifiable, which means that your doctor is legally obliged to inform the Environmental Health Department of your case. An EHO may contact or visit you to identify the source of contamination in order to help prevent further spread of infection.


How to prevent infecting people with Foodborne Diseases.

  • Don’t prepare or handle food for other people until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours.
  • If cleaning up diarrhoea or vomit, wash the surface with hot soapy water, before rinsing and drying. Use paper towels or disposable cloths should be used for cleaning.
  • Clean toilet bowls and seats, flush handles, door handles and taps at least daily with a household cleaner.
  • Wear rubber gloves when cleaning the toilet, cleaning up vomit or diarrhoea and loading the washing machine with soiled clothing.
  • Do not share any towels, including hand towels, with other members of the family.

Foodborne Diseases and many other topics are covered in our Food Safety Level Two training. Click here to find out more.

If you have any questions that aren’t answered here why not send us an email via our contact page, we will try and find out the answer and get back to you.


Sign-up for our newsletter