Causes of foodborne illness

One of our key priorities is to protect consumers in Scotland from the risks of foodborne illness.

What are the main causes of food poisoning in Scotland?

Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, is most frequently caused by eating or drinking food which has become contaminated with harmful microbiological agents, or pathogens, including bacteria and viruses.

In Scotland, it is estimated there are 43,000 cases of foodborne illness annually, with 5,800 GP presentations and 500 hospital admissions. 

In this section we have listed the 5 main microbiological agents that cause illness and have described the ways in which they cause illness and how to prevent it.

FSS has developed a strategy for reducing foodborne illness in Scotland and works closely with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Scottish partners such as Health Protection Scotland (HPS) to target the bacterial and viral pathogens which cause the highest number of cases of foodborne illness.