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Legal Guide: Claiming for illness abroad associated with food poisoning


The bacterium Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK; responsible for an estimated 321,000 cases in 2008. For most people the infection is ‘self-limiting’ with symptoms lasting for only a few days, but on rare occasions there are very serious, even fatal, complications.
Contaminated poultry meat is the major source of Campylobacter infection but other sources include other raw meats, unpasteurised milk and contaminated water.

How is Campylobacter food poisoning caused and what can be done about it?

Sometimes the hygiene standards abroad fall below those that we expect. However tour operators are under a duty to ensure that the facilities they provide for you are safe. This means that you should not be exposed to uncooked meat and contaminated food or water. This more often than not happens in large hotel complexes with a high volume of food production or on cruise ships with large numbers of guests.

Should I get advice?

If you write to your tour operator’s legal team having suffered from food poisoning whilst on holiday you may be ignored or offered a small compensatory amount by way of a voucher to spend with them on another holiday. Many holiday-makers approach us after contacting their tour operator directly because they have become frustrated by such low offers and excuses or delays.

Don’t be tempted to take any such offers until you have taken advice. Your claim could be worth much more.

Common reasons given by tour operators to avoid paying any compensation or making a token payment only.

Campylobacter symptoms can take anything from between 1 and 10 days to become apparent. This is sometimes called the incubation period. There are also numerous possibilities as to the source of your infection. Sometimes local bars or restaurants will be blamed instead of the hotel. If you can remember the time that the illness began on the precise day and the places that you had eaten as well as the food that you had eaten then you should make a careful note of this.

A Setfords solicitor can help you avoid under settlement of your claim

Due to our experience in this area we can help you if you have returned from your holiday having experienced a significant illness caused by the fault of the tour operator or its hotel or cruise ship. We may be able to help you claim the compensation you deserve.

Health Advice to Support Your Claim

If you experience symptoms of food poisoning during your holiday you should seek medical treatment immediately. It is also advisable to report the matter to your Holiday Representative and insist on your own copy of the report. On your return home and if symptoms persist contact your GP to discuss this and seek advice.

Speak with one of our Solicitor Holiday Claims Experts today if you have suffered from food poisoning abroad that you believe was caused by contaminated or uncooked food.

Are there other causes of food poisoning?

The name of the type of food poisoning derives from the type of bacteria which causes the infection of your stomach and intestines, which include:
1. Campylobacter bacteria
Campylobacter is the most common type of bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. It can be found on: chicken and other poultry, red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
2. Salmonella
Salmonella is the second most common bacteria which can give rise to food poisoning claims in the UK. It is found in meat, poultry, eggs and unpasteurised milk.
3. Clostridium perfringens
Clostridium perfringens can be found in many foods, including meat and poultry. It can also be found in soil – so it is very important that food products are properly washed,
4. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria
Listeria monocytogenes can be found in some cheeses and pâtés and can cause food poisoning and stomach pain if found in large numbers.
5. E Coli bacteria
E Coli is generally a harmless bacteria – but certain types of E Coli can produce a poison, which can cause illness and stomach pains.
6. Bacillus cereus
Bacillus cereus bacteria can be found on uncooked rice – supermarkets and other ready food suppliers go through an extensive process to ensure that this bacteria is eliminated to prevent food poisoning.

What are the symptoms and signs of a bacterial food poisoning claim?

Bacteria on food enter your body into the stomach and the intestine and as such your primary symptoms are to the digestive system and might include: diarrhoea, nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pains and cramps.
Some other signs can include haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome even a reduction in sexual performance. These symptoms can appear immediately following eating of contaminated or can present themselves over several days – as the bacteria multiplies.
Some bacteria can survive in your intestine for long time periods – the worst cases of food poisoning can cause death.

Who are you most likely to make a food poisoning claim against?

The most common places food poisoning claims are made against are food suppliers including: restaurants, hotels and supermarkets.

Quite often for a food poison claim to be successful a number of customers in a restaurant will have suffered similar symptoms and environmental health upon investigating the restaurant can determine the existence of bacteria in the food or in the kitchens. If abroad environmental health probably doesn’t exist but if numerous persons are ill at the same time this points to a problem with the Kitchen.

How much compensation can you claim for a food poison claim?

A medical report is necessary from a medical expert who will be able to set out the exact nature of the food poisoning you have suffered, the bacteria involved, the treatments necessary and any potential long term effects. Based upon this report compensation amounts for your pain and suffering can be determined by your solicitor, some examples include :

1. Minor food poisoning claim settlements
Food poisoning claims which lead to diarrhoea for a few days or weeks with stomach cramps gives rise to a compensation calculator of: £1000 – £3300
2. Food poisoning requiring hospital admission
More severe food poisoning which can cause stomach cramps, fatigue, the need for a stay at hospital – with symptoms lasting less than two years leads to average claim s of: £3300 – £7980
3. Severe food poisoning claims compensation
In the most severe types of food poisoning claim symptoms can include vomiting, fever, attendance at hospital, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, impact on working life, social life and sex life. Compensation settlements in this instance have a significant range from: £7200-£43,500.

These awards do not include any loss of earnings, clothing or medications, nor the loss of enjoyment of the holiday which can be quite substantial in their own right.

Please note that these guides are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. You can contact one of our expert consultant lawyers using the form below.