What is foodborne illness?

Foodborne illness (or food poisoning) is when someone becomes ill after eating food or drink containing harmful microorganisms. It can occur when food has not been cooked, stored or handled correctly 

Symptoms of foodborne illness may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, fever and chills. 

Depending on the microorganism symptoms can appear between 10 minutes to several weeks after the food is consumed. Often foodborne illness is not caused by the last food a person ate. 


Foodborne illness investigations

It is important that people go to their doctor if they think they have symptoms of foodborne illness. They should request a stool sample be sent to the laboratory for analysis.  

Doctors and laboratories are legally required to notify the Public Health Service of certain foodborne illnesses.  

Individuals can also contact the Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service directly if they believe food has made them sick:


All food complaints, for example, foreign objects in food, labelling queries, or matters associated with allergens should be referred directly to the Ministry for Primary Industries. 

Click here to visit the MPI webpage to make a food complaint


Food safety

The risk of foodborne illness can be reduced by following safe food practices. Please follow New Zealand Food Safety advice.