Last updated on 23 October 2012
Reminder to food handlers with food poisoning
The Food Standards Agency is reminding those who work with food and are suffering from symptoms of food poisoning, or those in close contact with someone who is, to stay away from work and see their GP. This is in light of the current outbreak of E.coli O157 in Northern Ireland.
Practising good hygiene is important, but especially so in the current outbreak of E.coli O157, where there is infection in the community, as bacteria can spread very quickly between people. Those who work with food while suffering from certain infections can contaminate the food or the surfaces it may come into contact with.
The Food Standards Agency is continuing to work closely with the Public Health Agency and other authorities in Northern Ireland on the ongoing investigation into the outbreak.
Symptoms of food poisoning
The symptoms of food poisoning usually begin one to three days after eating contaminated food but, with E.coli, it may be up to seven days before the onset of illness. Symptoms of food poisoning include:
- feeling sick
- stomach cramps
If you, or any members of your immediate family, have any of these symptoms, you should report to your manager immediately, stay away from work and see your GP. Managers must stop food handlers with these symptoms from working with food. Those who usually work with food, who are confirmed as having E.coli O157, must not return to work until they have medical clearance. This also applies to those who are in close contact with someone confirmed to have E.coli O157.
The Agency has published 'Food Handlers: Fitness to Work' guidance to help prevent the spread of infection to other people through food. The guidance aims to help managers and staff to prevent the spread of infection by advising which illnesses and symptoms staff should report and what managers should do in response.
Good food hygiene
Good hand and general hygiene is very important to help prevent the spread of infection. You must remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, then dry them before handling any cooked food. You should also always wash and dry your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat and poultry, touching the bin, going to the toilet, blowing your nose or touching animals (including pets).
The Food Standards Agency’s guidance, Food Handlers: Fitness to Work, provides regulatory guidance and best practice advice for food business operators and is available at the link below.