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Food and waterborne illness

Food borne illness (food poisoning) is when you get sick from eating contaminated food.  It is usually caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or toxins.  Common symptoms include nausea, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhoea.


Health Protection Officers at Public Health South will investigate any suspected food borne illness.  Please notify us if you are concerned that you or others may have food poisoning.  Health Protection Officers will interview you and assess the situation. 

Symptoms of food poisoning are similar to a number of other diseases.   The source of a person’s illness must be carefully assessed.   Contact with unclean surfaces, consumption of contaminated water, food contaminated in private homes, and contact with animals can also be sources of illness. 

Food borne illness can be caused by a large number of micro organisms.  These include Bacillus cereus, Norovirus, Campylobacter and Giardia.  The section on communicable diseases gives more information on some of these diseases.

 Complaints regarding objects in food, food labelling, or general concerns over the state of a particular food outlet should be referred to the Ministry of Primary Industries or the local Council where the outlet is situated.