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The Tragic Consequences of Food Poisoning

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

One thing that was drummed into me when I learnt the basics of cookery and which has been repeatedly emphasised ever since is the risk of infection, particularly in regard to meat and poultry.

We regularly hear of people becoming ill after eating in restaurants or after having bought a sandwich or something as innocuous as a simple salad. 

We live in an era where packaged foodstuffs are sometimes left unrefrigerated and sold when they are no longer as fresh as they should be. 

The basic reality is that unless some very clear and simple rules are followed, there is a real risk of food poisoning.

Generally food poisoning amounts to nothing more than a slight stomach bug and a few days of upset with numerous visits to the toilet. On other occasions the consequences can be very severe and result in brain damage, paralysis and death.

Such an outcome occurred in December 2012 when a group of friends suffered food poisoning after having their Christmas meal at a pub in Essex, resulting in the tragic death of one of their party.

Unsurprisingly, the Health & Safety Executive of the local council carried out extensive investigations and the subsequent prosecution against both the chef and manager, as well as the owners of the pub where the meal was served, resulted in both a prison sentence as well as a severe fine.

My colleague, Michael Hardacre wrote an excellent blog on an improvement in food packaging and how regulations have been implemented to ensure packaging is clearer. His blog deals with food allergies and can be found here.

Food allergies, together with other allergies, are issues that should not be trifled with as they can equally cause either a minor upset or tragic consequences leading to death. It is almost easy when the allergies affect only a small minority of society for the rest of us to forget or ignore the implications these allergies can have.

The law on food poisoning and allergies is clear. The seller owes a duty of care to the consumer. This has been enshrined in statute for many years now as well as in common law. I have blogged previously on how each of us owes the other a duty of care and this is no different.

If I therefore eat in a restaurant and suffer food poisoning I am entitled to bring a food poisoning claim against the restaurant. Evidence is of course vital and it is important that as much as possible is done immediately after any bout of food poisoning to preserve evidence.

Equally if I have an allergy (of which I am aware and obscure allergies are unlikely to benefit from this argument), I should expect food manufacturers and suppliers to clearly label food stuffs and tell me of any potential risks that might cause me harm.

If they do not, a criminal fine and civil liability can result as Michael has indicated in his blog.

Tristan Hallam is a Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

For a free consultation about claiming compensation for food poisoning call our Personal Injury Solicitors 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire & in Hull, Yorkshire.