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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

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Food Safety

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Overview

We deal with all types of food related enquiries, which include:

  • Food business or product complaint
  • Infectious disease

We deal with all types of food complaint and queries as well as complaints about poor standards in food premises. If you want to make a complaint about food you have purchased, or if you are unhappy about the premises from which you have bought food please report it by pressing the 'report a food business or product complaint' button above. For further information please refer to the 'food complaint leaflet' below.

We investigate outbreaks of food poisoning and certain other infectious diseases. We can only investigate incidents that occurred in Birmingham or if you have consumed food from a business in Birmingham. If you would like to report an incident relating to an outbreak of food poisoning or infectious disease, please see our infectious control page. Further information on infectious diseases can be found below.

Essential Information
  • Please click on the link below where you will be able to check a food business for their Food Hygiene rating.

    http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/hygienescores

  • If a number of people ate at the same venue at the same time and have the same food poisoning-type symptoms, this may be due to a food poisoning outbreak. Our investigation into the outbreak will involve:

    • interviewing people who are ill
    • interviewing others who ate at the venue but didn't have symptoms,
    • taking faecal and food samples (if appropriate) and
    • inspecting the venue.

    If there is enough evidence that a food premises in the area is a possible source of the outbreak, we may decide to carry out a food hygiene inspection.

    If you believe that you are suffering from food poisoning (for instance sickness and diarrhoea) please contact us using the details above or use the food complaint form.

  • Facts about food poisoning;

    • The most common type of food poisoning is caused by Campylobacter
    • Food that causes food poisoning looks, tastes and smells normal
    • Pregnant women, young children and babies, the elderly and people who are already ill are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning
    • Not all bacteria are harmful, some are used to make cheese and yoghurt

    Food poisoning can be prevented by:

    • washing hands thoroughly before handling food and always after handling raw meat, going to the toilet, blowing your nose or handling animals (including pets)
    • keeping food preparation surfaces and utensils clean and disinfected.
    • preparing and storing raw meat and 'ready-to-eat' food separately. Always keep raw and defrosting meat at the base of the refrigerator, below everything else.
    • ensuring that your refrigerator and freezer are operating properly. Invest in a suitable thermometer. The refrigerator should operate at 5°C or lower and the freezer at -18°C or lower.
    • always storing eggs in the refrigerator and do not eat food containing uncooked eggs.
    • keeping pets away from food and food preparation surfaces.
    • thoroughly defrost food, particularly raw meat and poultry, before cooking.
    • cooking food thoroughly. Follow the manufacturers' guidelines and ensure that food is piping hot throughout before eating.
    • cooling food immediately after cooking if you are not going to eat it straight away and never allow it to be at room temperature for more than 4 hours. Always store left over food in the refrigerator as soon as it has cooled to room temperature and within 90 minutes of starting the cooling process.

  • All Local Authorities are required to produce a Food Law Enforcement Plan.

    Our Food Law Enforcement Plan 2009-2010 is attached below. It identifies our aims and objectives, demands on the food service, enforcement policy, how we deal with food complaints, inspections and sampling.

    If you want more information on our Food Law Enforcement plan or wish to make a more specific complaint/enquiry about a food hygiene/safety related matter please use the 'report a business or product complaint' button above'.

Frequently Asked Questions
    • Many different sorts of bacteria (germs) can cause food borne illness. Types of food that are most at risk are those containing;

      • Meat
      • Fish
      • Eggs
      • Dairy Products

      When this food is not kept in the fridge the number of bacteria can grow rapidly and reach dangerous levels within hours. The number of cases of food borne illness has increased dramatically over the past few years, particularly during the summer months. Good food hygiene standards in industry and the home are vital to prevent food borne illness.

      It is important to realise that the last meal you ate may not be the cause of your symptoms. The time taken from eating the food to feeling unwell varies and can be up to 10-15 days.

    • We all are, but babies, young children and the elderly can very quickly become very ill. Pregnant women, people who already have a pre-existing illness, and anyone whose immune system is weakened can also be seriously affected by food borne illness.



      • diarrhoea
      • stomach cramps
      • vomiting
      • fever
      • nausea
      • headache
      • dizziness

      There are many types of food borne illness caused by different bacteria. The most common include:

      Campylobacter


      Symptoms include stomach cramps and severe diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting and fever. They can begin 2-10 days after eating contaminated food but usually within 2-5 days. The main sources are undercooked chicken and other meats, pets, unpasteurised milk and contaminated water and cross-contamination to other foods. This organism is the most common cause of acute diarrhoea in adults.

      Salmonella


      Symptoms include stomach pain, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. It usually takes about 12-72 hours for the illness to develop. Symptoms can be much more severe in the young and elderly. The main sources are undercooked chicken and other meats, unpasteurised milk and raw or undercooked eggs. This organism is the second most common form of food poisoning.

      E.coli O157


      Symptoms include severe bloody diarrhoea, and the infection can lead to serious kidney damage in children. It usually takes 12-72 hours for illness to develop. The main sources are undercooked beef burgers and minced beef, contaminated cooked meats and unpasteurised milk. This organism has also been linked to farms and farm animals.

      Staphylococcus aureus


      Symptoms include stomach pains and vomiting, 1-6 hours after eating and it usually takes 12-24 hours for symptoms to subside. This bacteria is found on humans (particularly in the nose, throat, skin and ears) and is transferred to food through poor hygiene practices.

      Listeria


      Mild flu-like illness in healthy people, but which can cause septicaemia and meningitis in the young and elderly. Listeria can lead to stillbirth and miscarriage or meningitis in a new-born baby. Sources include unpasteurised soft cheeses (such as brie and camembert) and meat pates. Prevention of food poisoning from Listeria is more difficult than other organisms as it can multiply rapidly at refrigeration temperatures. It is recommended that pregnant women do not eat the above products.
    • Food borne illness can spread quickly, partly because everyone in the family could have eaten the same food and partly because the bacteria may be passed on by close family contact (for instance when nursing the sick). Viruses can also cause illness similar to food poisoning and they also spread very quickly. If you suspect you are suffering from food poisoning we recommend that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. They might ask you to submit a faecal sample for examination. Samples are useful in that they might be able to show which food-borne illness you are suffering from, or could rule out a food-poisoning organism. Viruses can also be detected. Consult your doctor immediately if the person affected is a baby, elderly or has an existing illness or condition or if symptoms are prolonged or severe (for instance bloody diarrhoea).

      If you or a member of your family are suffering from the symptoms of food poisoning, we recommend that you follow the advice below to try and prevent the spread of the illness:

      • wash your hands after contact with the sick person, and before handling food.
      • the sick person should avoid preparing food altogether
      • do not use the same towel or face cloth as someone who is suffering with food borne illness.
      • clear up toileting accidents straightaway, wash with hot soapy water and disinfect with a disinfectant or bleach.
      • disinfect door and toilet handles, taps and the toilet seat after use and disinfect the toilet bowl frequently.
      • drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
    • You should contact the local authority where the food was manufactured or packed. We will only issue certificates for food produced or packed within Birmingham.



    • Use-by dates are put on foods which could cause food poisoning if eaten after that date for instance packets of ham, wrapped meat pies or packaged cheese.

      Best before dates are put on low risk foods such as bread, cakes, biscuits or tinned food.

      It is an offence to sell food which is past its use-by date, but it is not an offence to sell food beyond its best before date provided the food is still of reasonable quality.


    • Many problems are resolved by giving advice to the food business operator or manufacturer, but in certain circumstances, formal action may be taken.


    • Each year, we carry out a comprehensive food sampling programme to check that food and drink sold in Birmingham is safe to eat as well as being of the quality that consumers should expect. The programme is developed with the Health Protection Agency and Public Analyst and includes local, regional and national surveys. Our sampling protocol is attached for further information.

    • If you haven't been able to find the information that you need then the link below will take you to a form that you can use to ask us further questions.


      Service Specific Enquiry