Food poisoning means an illness that is due to either bacteria, their toxins or parasites present in food or water. The most common symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Where GPs are aware of suspected or confirmed food poisoning they are under a legal duty to notify our Department. When we receive a notification of food poisoning, whether from a doctor or the person affected, we interview the affected person to try to ascertain the cause of the illness, to identify any further persons who may be at risk of acquiring the illness; such as family members, or in the case of small children who may attend nurseries, any other children who may have been exposed to the risk of acquiring the illness; and to identify any food handlers who may be suffering from food poisoning to ensure that they are excluded from work until they have recovered and been free from symptoms for the required period of time (48 hours for most forms of food poisoning). It is likely that officers of the team will need to liaise with employers in such circumstances to ensure that they comply with their obligations in this regard.
The investigation will try and find out what they had to eat, when, and where they ate it. Many people assume that it was the last thing that they ate that made them ill. In fact it may be something eaten many days before. If you suspect that you are suffering from food poisoning please contact the Food Safety and Standards Team, as soon as possible.
Occasionally the Food Safety and Standards Team may become involved in investigating outbreaks of food poisoning linked with a particular premises or events in Pembrokeshire. The reason for investigating outbreaks is, as above, to identify the source and cause of the outbreak, to prevent further spread of the illness, to identify those who have been affected or who are at further risk of picking up the illness, and to make sure that affected food handlers are excluded from work to prevent additional risks of further spread.
Investigations of food poisoning outbreaks are undertaken by drawing together a multi-disciplinary team of Environmental Health Officers and other Local Authority personnel, together with medical professionals, such as Consultants in Communicable Disease Control, Microbiologists, Epidemiologists, etc.
Where outbreaks can be linked to particular premises or people who have placed on the market food that is unsafe and has caused an outbreak, the Authority may pursue formal action against those businesses or persons, e.g. by prosecuting them.