Around 200,000 people get sick every year in New Zealand from food. About 40% of sicknesses are thought to be caused by unsafe food handling practices in the home. You can stop your family from becoming ill by following the 3Cs - clean, cook, chill.
The Health Protection Team is responsible for investigating food borne illnesses and food poisoning complaints. Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) and the district council Environmental Health Officer teams have roles in Food Safety also. More detail on the roles of these three agencies is provided below. For more information about food regulation click here.
Foodborne illness or food poisoning
Foodborne illness (often referred to as food poisoning) is the name for illness caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or drink. Most is caused by harmful bacteria getting into food.
If you, your family or friends feel unwell, seek medical attention from your family doctor, or after hours medical care.
- Click here to find out more about the symptoms of foodborne illness.
- Click here to find a specific Communicable Disease Information Sheet.
If you suspect the cause of an illness is connected with food that has been purchased and eaten you should report this to a Health Protection Officer (HPO) (contact details here).
An HPO will complete a questionnaire with you over the phone. The information is assessed to determine the likely source and cause of your illness. Most people think the last food they ate is the cause of their illness however, symptoms can take from 30 minutes to over 10 days to start.
You may need to provide faecal (poo) samples (and food specimens if available) to assist in the investigation. The HPO will assess the information and if there is evidence that the illness was caused by food, MPI who are responsible for food safety will be notified.
Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurised (heat treated) to kill harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter, Listeria and toxin-producing strains of E. coli. It is not always possible to tell by taste, sight or smell if raw milk will make you sick.
Pregnant women, young children, older people and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to become unwell through drinking raw milk.
The MPI deals with queries on any of the following:
- Food Complaints (other than food poisoning and foodborne illness) including foreign objects or undeclared allergens in food within our region;
- Food Recalls;
- Imported Food;
- Food Control Plans and National Programmes; and
- Food Labelling
As detailed above, the Health Protection Team is responsible for investigating food borne illnesses and food poisoning complaints.
If you want to report a 'dirty' food premises or unhygienic practices of food handlers, contact an Environmental Health Officer at your local council (Wairoa, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay).