Compensation for food poisoning soars as more restaurants begin to cut corners

With rising numbers of food outlets opening in UK cities, statistics have recently shown that the amount of compensation for food poisoning caused by badly handled food in UK restaurants has risen in the past two years. This is largely due to the increasingly competitive nature of the food and restaurant industry, where restaurants (both fast food chains and other establishments) are competing with each other within very close proximities, especially in a bid to serve customers with food faster in busy lunch hours. Restaurants have been reported to be cutting serious corners, leading to many cases of food poisoning and compensation for food poisoning pay outs.

Although many sit-down restaurants included in this survey did fall short of the food standard requirements – occurring mainly because of the restaurants’ attempts to serve more people in one meal time sitting, therefore creating the need to serve food more quickly – the majority of compensation for food poisoning in 2010 was against ‘fast food’ or casual dining establishments, where demand for food at breakfast, lunch and early dinner time is very high. It was reported that the owners of such establishments felt like they were competing time-wise with nearby fast-food restaurants, as customers in cities generally tend to choose the restaurant which can serve them the fastest.

Whatever the reasoning behind these failings in food safety, the effects of food poisoning must be taken into consideration and individuals must understand what rights they have if they have been affected by food poisoning from a restaurant. Apart from the time taken off work in general food poisoning cases, the implications of having food poisoning can be very serious, especially if the person who is affected is already weak, ill or if the strain of food poisoning is particularly toxic. Emma was affected by a very bad case of food poisoning when she dined out at a high-end restaurant in Manchester. Emma recalled that the restaurant seemed rather over crowded, as if extra tables had been placed in the restaurant area and that the staff seemed rather rushed off their feet. Emma ordered the swordfish for her main. She recalled that the fish did seem to arrive surprisingly fast at the table, although she did not worry about it at the time, assuming that the restaurant would not give her contaminated food.

However, that evening, Emma began to experience violent stomach pains and vomiting. The symptoms persisted so seriously that she was eventually forced to ring for an ambulance, which took her to hospital. For the next week, Emma was kept in hospital as her symptoms continued. It was deduced that she was suffering from a very serious type of food poisoning. After spending six nights in hospital, Emma was discharged home. Feeling very sure that it was the Swordfish from the restaurant she had eaten in which had caused her food poisoning, Emma contacted the restaurant itself. She explained the situation fully and they denied the possibility of their swordfish causing the food poisoning.

Emma knew that this wasn’t the case and wanted to find out more about how to go about receiving some compensation for food poisoning. She had heard that people had received compensation in the past and thought she was entitled to make a claim, especially considering the seriousness of her particular food poisoning. When Emma sought legal advice, a food standards agency was sent to test a selection of the restaurant’s food to see if it had any traces of contamination in it. The swordfish served in the restaurant was found to be ‘dangerous’ three out of five times. With this strong case behind her, Emma received her compensation for food poisoning.

Bearing in mind the above case study, it is important to keep in mind that although having solid evidence for food contamination in restaurant food made Emma’s case very strong, even if she had not had this evidence, she may well have won her case anyway. Sometimes it is difficult to gain solid evidence that a restaurant has given you food poisoning. If this is the case, it is still very worthwhile to seek out legal advice for how you could get compensation for food poisoning.


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