How to make a food poisoning compensation claim
What is food poisoning?
The majority of us will have experienced a mild form of food poisoning at some point in their lives, with undercooked food being the most common cause. The usual symptoms are not severe and will have eased off within a week.
However, in some cases, food poisoning is extremely severe, leaving sufferers with ongoing health problems. Sometimes it can even be life threatening.
Food poisoning can occur after eating food or drink which has been infected with bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses or even parasites. Most of the time, it is impossible to tell whether food or drink is contaminated as the contaminants are mainly odourless, colourless and tasteless.
What causes food poisoning?
The most common type of food poisoning are bacterial contamination such as salmonella, E-coli, botulism and campylobacter.
Salmonella bacteria can only be killed by high temperatures, which is why it is vital to cook food at a sufficiently high heat. In addition, salmonella can be spread very easily through worktops, kitchen surfaces and any other items or utensils which have come into contact with infected produce.
Foods which are most prone to carrying salmonella are:
- Egg products such as mayonnaise or raw milk
- Untreated water
- Untreated seafood
If salmonella in contracted, it can become a persistent and debilitating condition, and one which often recurs through the sufferers life.
E-coli is a common bacteria which is found in the intestines of healthy, warm-blooded animals (including humans). However, certain strains of E-coli can be very harmful and cause intense stomach cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.
Like salmonella, cooking at high temperatures will kill E-coli bacteria but high standards of cleanliness is also an important risk factor. Avoiding cross contamination between raw foods will also help to prevent the ingestion of the harmful bacteria.
Botulism food poisoning occurs when a bacteria called clostridium botulinum produces toxins known as botulin.
Again, high temperatures will kill botulin making food which has been cooked properly carry no risks.
Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of food poisoning and is contracted from things like undercooked meat (particularly chicken), unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
Getting diagnosed with food poisoning
If you experience any symptoms which are consistent with food poisoning, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Extreme cases of food poisoning can cause damage to the digestive tract and also cause ongoing health problems. Though rare, there have also been cases of food poisoning which have resulted in death.
Though it is suggested that you see a doctor immediately, you may find that you simply have to wait for the illness to work its way out of your system. However, if you become dehydrated, it may be necessary for you to be admitted to hospital for intravenous fluids as low fluid levels can be dangerous.
Can I make a claim for food poisoning and if so, how?
If you have contracted food poisoning through no fault of your own, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
You should speak to a solicitor or claims expert as soon as possible and he/she will advise you on whether or not they think you have a valid claim, and then what the next steps are for you to take.