Food poisoning and viral gastro

Food poisoning is a serious illness which occurs when some types of bacteria or their toxins are in the food you eat.

Viral gastro is a general term to describe a variety of short term illnesses triggered by the infection and inflammation of the digestive system.

Sometimes food poisoning is not as it seems.

You’ve probably heard of salmonella, and maybe even campylobacter. You have probably heard that they are bacteria that cause food poisoning. But have you heard of norovirus? In many cases, it’s the reason you’re feeling sick. Norovirus, a cause of viral gastroenteritis, has similar symptoms to food poisoning, but it’s most commonly spread person-to-person, and is unlikely to be from food.

Viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious and is spread by the vomit or faeces of an infected person through:

  • person-to-person contact, for example shaking hands with someone who has been sick
  • contaminated objects or surfaces (like doors, tables, hand rails)
  • contaminated food or drink.

See Environmental Health Officer Ebony give an description of the differences between viral gastro (norovirus) and food poisoning:



If you think you have food poisoning caused by food from a food business, you can register a food complaint with us to investigate.

For more information about gastroenteritis please visit the Better Health Channel.






Page last updated: Monday, 24 June 2019

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