Advice sheet on food poisoning
What is it?
Food poisoning is an illness that occurs after eating or drinking anything that is contaminated by germs or sometimes chemicals.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms depend on the type of germ or chemical, but diarrhea, sickness, stomach pains, and sometimes fever and headache are the most common.
Illness may last for only a day or continue for one or two weeks.
How can I tell if food is contaminated?
You can't! Even food which looks and tastes fresh can cause food poisoning.
What can I do to avoid food poisoning?
Raw food, especially meat and poultry, contains germs which can cause food poisoning. To stop these
germs getting onto food:
• Store raw and cooked food apart. Raw meat must always be kept on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
• Use separate utensils and chopping boards for raw and cooked foods.
• Wash your hands with soap in warm running water after handling raw food.
• Do not eat food while handling it.
To kill the germs before you eat food:
• Thaw frozen poultry and joints of meat completely before cooking. Meat should be thawed in the bottom of the refrigerator.
• Cook food thoroughly. Poultry should always be cooked until the juices run clear.
• If you want to keep food for later, cool it quickly and put it in the fridge as soon as possible or keep it hot in the oven. If food is stored at the right temperature, germs cannot grow.
To keep other germs off food:
• Do not eat foods made with raw eggs, e.g. homemade mayonnaise, some mousses and desserts.
• Do not drink unpasteurised milk and do not drink milk from bottles which birds have pecked.
• Keep pets and pet food away from food, work surfaces and utensils.
• Wash your hands after using the toilet, before and after preparing food, after handling pets and after emptying the waste bin.
• Keep food covered.
• Do not store food in open tins in the refrigerator.
Having a party?
• Follow the advice in this leaflet.
• Do not prepare food too far in advance.
• If you invite a lot of guests, use commercial caterers who have the equipment to prepare and store large amounts of food safely.
If I am suffering from food poisoning, is there anything I should do while I am ill?
• Wash hands with soap in warm running water and dry thoroughly, especially when preparing food and after using the toilet.
• Avoid close contact with other people until sickness and diarrhoea has stopped.
• Avoid preparing food for other people.
• Clean toilet seats, flush handles, door handles and taps frequently with hot soapy water and disinfectant.
• Soiled clothes and bedding should be washed separately in the washing machine on the hottest cycle.
Will I need to take time off work/school?
You must stay away from work or school until at least 48 hours after you begin to feel better. If your
work involves handling food, nursing or working with the young, sick or elderly, you must tell your employer.
Read the leaflet about food poisoning.
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 8-14 on your answer sheet.
8 Different germs and chemicals produce different....................
9 Food might be………………….even when it appears to be fine.
10 All…………….contains germs, but particular care must be taken with meat and poultry.
11 It is preferable to…………….frozen meat and poultry rather than cook it directly.
12 The food of………………should not come into contact with the food you eat.
13 Hiring………….is the best option if you want to provide food for a large number of people.
14 If you are suffering from food poisoning, clean your living space more rigorously.
The……………..of the washing machine is advisable for any clothes or bedding affected.