Environmental Health is responsible for investigations of infectious diseases and food poisoning.
Food poisoning can affect one person or a group of people, depending on whether they have all eaten the same contaminated food and their individual susceptibility.
Most food poisoning is caused by bacteria. Some bacteria can multiply rapidly from one to millions given the right conditions of moisture, food, warmth and time. The more bacteria present in the food or drink, the higher the chance of infection and illness.
The Food Standards Agency estimates that up to 5.5 million people in the UK are affected by food poisoning annually. Only a small number of these visit their doctor or get medical advice. Most cases of food poisoning are not reported because people have mild symptoms and recover quickly and as a result, less than 100,000 cases a year are tested for the exact cause of food poisoning.
If you feel you are suffering from food poisoning, it's essential that you and anyone else showing symptoms contact their family doctor to submit a faecal (or stool) sample. Samples submitted to the doctor will be tested by the hospital laboratories and if any food poisoning organisms are present, the results are relayed to this service by the Health Board.
Our officers will respond to all positive notifications of cases and will take details from you, including a history of food consumed over several days, to try to find out the source of the illness. We also need to establish if you are likely to present a food poisoning risk to other people, for example, if you are a worker in a food business, you could inadvertently pass the illness on to others through cross-contamination of food products.
Environmental Health work closely with colleagues in NHS Ayrshire and Arran and investigate confirmed cases of food and water-borne illness.