Food Poisoning – How to avoid it

In April 2014 a Chinese Takeaway in Leicestershire was fined £4,500 for failing to clean up its “revolting” kitchen. The owner did not clean up the kitchen after previous warnings. He stated, “No-one complained of food poisoning from my shop, so I overlooked it.”

Every year, there are around 1 million cases of food poisoning, according to the Food Standards Agency. In most cases, food-borne illnesses are short, violent and nasty, leaving the victim weak and unwell for around a week.  However, in some cases it can be very serious.  Food poisoning contributes to around 20,000 hospital admissions and 500 deaths per year in the UK.

Of course, food poisoning is not confined to situations where people eat out in cafes or restaurants. It can also occur as a result of food prepared in the home.  To avoid the unpleasantness of a food-borne illness developing from your home-cooked supper always remember:

• Wash your hands before handling food, each time you handle raw meat, fish, poultry or eggs, and after using the toilet. Use hot, soapy water.
• Use separate chopping boards for meat and vegetable preparation (it is a good idea to have different colours for each board so you remember which board is intended for which task).
• Keep raw meat away from ‘ready to eat’ foods. Food poisoning often occurs when raw chicken is placed on a refrigerator shelf above a pre-prepared pudding or salad, resulting in the juices from the chicken dripping onto the prepared food, thereby contaminating it with bacteria. Because the contaminated, pre-prepared food is not heated / cooked before serving, the bacteria are not killed off and food poisoning can result.
• Keep your fridge temperature below 5°C.
• Cook food, especially meat and leftovers, properly, and until piping hot.
• Do not risk eating food, especially animal products (seafood, eggs, meat and dairy) after the labelled ‘used by date’.

Whilst you are in control of hygiene standards in your own home, how can you protect yourself from obtaining a nasty bout of food poisoning when you are eating out? Clearly it is not practical to inspect the kitchen yourself!

The best thing you can do is check the restaurant’s Food Hygiene Rating provided by the Food Standards Agency. Simply type in the name of the establishment you plan to visit and it will return a rating from 0 to 5, based on how closely the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law.

You can also read reviews of the restaurant or cafe you plan to dine in before you eat there.  In today’s online world, a case of food poisoning often reaches cyber-space in the form of reviews on sites such as

Here are some other steps you can take to protect yourself:

Pay Attention to the Cleanliness of the Bathrooms

Good restaurants and cafes take the cleanliness of their bathroom facilities very seriously.  If the rubbish receptacle in the bathroom is full and it looks like it has not had a decent clean in a while you might wonder how clean the kitchen is.

Avoid Buffets

Think about it, the food at a buffet is very vulnerable to inconsistent temperatures, and some restaurants are quite happy to let food sit out for hours without checking it.  Also, a lot of people touch the food and utensils with their unwashed hands.  If you do eat at a buffet, choose an early sitting.

Smell your food

If you detect a funny or unpleasant odour, inform your waiting staff immediately.  The food should smell fresh.

Speak up

In England we’re notorious for complaining vehemently to one and other about the quality of food in a restaurant, but when the waiting staff ask, “how was your meal?” we say, “fine, thank you”, then carry on grumbling to each other.  However, if your food is undercooked or lukewarm, send it back for your health’s sake.

Eating in an establishment that has one of these shortcomings does not necessarily mean you will contract food poisoning, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Even a mild case of food poisoning can be extremely unpleasant.  If you have contracted it and believe it was someone else’s fault view our dedicated page, or contact us today to discuss your rights to compensation.

Tips for Staying Safe Abroad

Most vacations are incident free and holiday makers return home with nothing more concerning than a little sunburn and those extra pounds they lost in preparation for their trip.

However, sometimes unfortunate incidences can occur abroad. So here is a list of safety precautions you can take to minimise your risk and increase your chances of returning home happy and healthy.

Take Out Travel Insurance and Keep Copies of Documents

Although it can seem like an extra holiday expense, if you become ill or suffer a personal injury overseas, travel insurance becomes worth its weight in gold.  According to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, an air ambulance from the east coast of the United States to Britain would set you back £35-45000.00.

Many people believe they are completely covered for medical mishaps in Europe if they have an EHIC card; however, this simply covers basic medical costs and only in state hospitals.  It is worth having the added protection of travel insurance in case an unforeseen, major emergency befalls you.

Make sure you have copies of your passport, insurance and other important documents.  Keep one copy with a trusted person at home and one copy in the safe of your hotel.

Research Your Destination

Take some time to discover a little about the country you will be visiting. Is there a history of civil unrest?  Recently popular destinations such as Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, Greece and Ukraine (the ninth most popular tourist destination in Europe in 2012) have been affected by protests turning violent. In most cases holiday resorts are not affected, but if you are planning to visit the sights in major metropolitan areas, check with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to see if there are any government warnings applicable to your destination.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself caught up in a protest or riot, move to the edge of the crowd and from there walk away from the gathering.  DO NOT take any photographs or start filming. Protesters do not want to be identified and may take serious measures to remove your camera or phone from you. If you are in your hotel, remain inside, lock the doors, close the curtains and stay away from the windows.

Take Precautions When Buying Food and Drinking Water

Traveller’s tummy, Delhi belly, bacterial gastroenteritis, whatever name you give it, nothing will ruin your holiday faster than a bout of food poisoning.  Depending on its severity the experience can range from having to spend a few miserable days cloistered in your hotel room, to requiring medical treatment at the local hospital.

Food poisoning is caused by contaminated food and water.  The standards of food health and safety can vary greatly from country to country, but here are a few pointers that may help you avoid the misery of contracting food poisoning abroad:

• Check to see if the tap water in the country you are visiting is safe to drink. If it is considered unsafe, drink bottled or sterilised water and avoid ice.
• Do not consume food from street vendors.
• Research eating establishments on the internet or in travel guides and only eat in places which have been recommended.
• Eat your food piping hot.
• Avoid seafood, salads and dairy products in countries where cases of food poisoning are common.

Watch How Much You Drink and ALWAYS Keep A Close Eye on Your Glass

Holidays are meant to be a time when you can let your hair down and many people throw caution to the wind when they are on an adventure abroad.  However, when you are intoxicated your judgement becomes clouded and you are far more likely to become a victim of a robbery or an assault.  It is also worth noting that most travel insurance companies will not provide cover for any incidences which result from a person being intoxicated.

By keeping these few tips in mind you can relax and make the most of your holiday, with the knowledge that you have taken the necessary precautions to protect you and your family.  Enjoy planning your summer break.

You could be entitled to make a personal injury claim – for more information on making a poisoning claim, more detailed information can be found here. To speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.

Food poisoning – could you make a claim?

Christmas is traditionally a time for enjoying food and drink whilst celebrating with friends and family. But, what should have been a happy occasion at the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch, Essex, turned sour when 30 diners fell ill after their Christmas Day meal last December. Tragically, one lady has since passed away. And tests carried out by the Health Protection Agency have revealed that food poisoning bacteria may have been the cause.

Food poisoning is a very common illness, with Hospital Episodes Statistics reporting around 5.5 million cases a year. Most instances occur in the home and are caused by eating produce that’s undercooked, has been stored incorrectly or has simply gone off. But sometimes, restaurants, hotels, pubs, takeaways, supermarkets and other food outlets are at fault. If this is the case, consumers are entitled to claim compensation.

Why claim compensation for food poisoning?

Some people hesitate to make food poisoning claims, because the damage was ‘accidental’ and wasn’t done on purpose. But, if you’ve paid good money for a meal that has made you unwell – even for just a few days – then you deserve some recompense for that unpleasant experience. And if you’ve had to take time off work or away from your business, or pay for medical treatment, you should be compensated for that, too.

How do I make a claim?

First, you’ll need to produce medical evidence that you’ve suffered from food poisoning. This might be a note from your GP, or hospital records if you were admitted to hospital. Also, you’ll have to prove that you contracted food poisoning as a result of eating or buying food at the company in question. This might involve an official investigation into the company’s hygiene standards and/or its food preparation and cooking practices, as well as finding out whether other people have suffered the same ill effects.

Sound a bit daunting? Let Injury Lawyers 4U help

Injury Lawyers 4U are a national network of personal injury specialists. We’re here to help with all kinds of accident and injury claims. Your food poisoning claim will be dealt with by an expert personal injury solicitor, giving you the best possible chance of success.

Call for honest, professional advice on 0845 345 4444. We’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or complete our simple online form.