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Food safety and food poisoning


If you suspect that you have food poisoning, it is important that you contact or visit your family doctor (GP). Food poisoning symptoms can occur days after you have eaten contaminated food.

Symptoms of food poisoning usually include one or more of the following:

  • stomach pains
  • vomiting
  • fever and
  • diarrhoea.

You should always report a confirmed food poisoning illness to your Local Health Office as this is the only way a proper investigation can take place to identify what has made you sick. If other people report illness associated with similar products or outlets, your report will help highlight the precise numbers of people affected. This will also permit the public health doctors and environmental health officers to identify problems. Your vigilance in pointing out a problem can prevent others becoming seriously ill.


If you have eaten or bought food that is not safe or of a satisfactory standard, you have the right to make a formal complaint. Food is considered unsafe/unsatisfactory when it:

  • Results in you experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea or stomach pains
  • Contains a foreign object, for example, glass, insects, hair
  • Is contaminated by chemicals such as disinfectants or detergents
  • Appears to be contaminated in some way - this may be noticed by a bad taste or smell.

In addition, you can also make a complaint if you are unhappy with the hygiene standard in a food premises, e.g., supermarket, restaurant, etc.

If you suspect that there is something wrong with the food you have been served or purchased

When eating out:

  • Do not accept an unsatisfactory meal in a restaurant or café - send it back, leave or ask for an entirely fresh serving on a clean plate.
  • Always remember that hot food must be served piping hot.

From take-aways

Store the affected food in the fridge until it is examined by the authorities.

Purchased products

  • Make a note of when and where the food was purchased, when the food was first opened and when the problem was first noticed.
  • Keep the food product in the fridge or freezer, cover it and store it away from other food.
  • Do not remove any foreign objects from the food product.
  • Keep all the labels and packaging from the food product.


Analysis of food samples

The standard fee for having a food sample analysed at a Public Analyst Laboratory is €127.

How to apply

If you have a complaint regarding food or a food premises, you should contact the Environmental Health Officer in your Local Health Office as soon as possible. If you have a complaint regarding food poisoning, you should contact the Public Health Doctor in your local Health Health Office of the (HSE). Both the Environmental Health Officer and the Public Health Doctor provide a confidential service and will advise you on the best course of action.

Usually, an official of the HSE will arrange to meet you in order to complete an official complaint form. If you submit a food complaint, the unfit food may be sent to the Public Analyst Laboratory in your region for analysis and you will be notified of the result. On the other hand, you can have suspect food analysed independently by contacting your local Public Analyst Laboratory yourself.

You can contact your Local Health Office by post, phone and fax or by calling into the local offices. The Food Safety Authority's Food Safety Information Centre has all these contact addresses and numbers.

Where To Apply

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Abbey Court
Lower Abbey Street
Dublin 1

Tel:+353 1 8171300
Locall:1890 336677
Fax:+353 1 8171301

Page updated: 15 July 2010



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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.