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Food poisoning

Food poisoning is an acute illness caused by eating contaminated or poisonous food.


It may be caused by any of the following:

  • bacteria or their toxins
  • chemicals or metals such as zinc, copper and tin
  • plants or fish
  • moulds or fungi


Symptoms normally include one or more of the following:

  • abdominal pain and/or stomach cramps
  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • fever

Action you should take

Symptoms can start between one hour to several weeks after consumption and may persist for a few hours or several weeks.

If you suspect that you have food poisoning, visit your GP and suggest providing a stool specimen. A stool specimen will go to a laboratory for analysis to determine if you are suffering from food poisoning. If you are, the laboratory will notify environmental health. If you live in the Maldon district, you will then receive a questionnaire from us to try to determine the source of the food poisoning.

If you work with the elderly, young children, in a hospital type environment or in the food industry, then you should inform your manager immediately if you experience the above symptoms. The general rule of thumb is that you should not return to work until 48 hours after the symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting have stopped.