Illness Experts Offer Top Tips On Avoiding Festival Food Poisoning Risks

Specialists Acting for Victims of Outbreaks Provide a Seven-Point Plan for Summer

21.08.2014

Lawyers who have helped thousands of people affected by illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad to gain justice regarding such problems are urging families planning to enjoy festivals and days out over the summer to bear in mind seven top tips to ensure their fun in the sun passes without a hitch.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist illness team acts for many people who have suffered long-term health problems after being struck by gastric illness as a result of food poisoning at a range of outdoor events and holiday resorts, including dozens of victims of a Salmonella outbreak linked to the Street Spice food festival held in Newcastle last year, and a Salmonella outbreak which has been reportedly linked to The Real China restaurant in Eastleigh, near Southampton.

Now, with summer upon us and hundreds of people flocking to festivals celebrating everything from music to food and literature, the expert lawyers are calling on anyone heading for a day out or a weekend away to take simple steps to stay safe.

Amandeep Dhillon is a Partner and Public Health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell. 

Expert Opinion
It is undoubtedly the time of year to get out and enjoy the summer, but we are calling on the public to bear in mind key issues which allow them to make the most of the sunshine.

“We have seen a number of cases where breaks have been ruined by illnesses caused by food poisoning, often leaving those affected with problems which lead to time off work or even time in hospital in the short term. We represent individuals who also suffer with long term symptoms after such incidents. While it is vital food outlets take steps to meet good standards of hygiene, the public would be wise to take a few precautions to stay on the safe side.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner

Irwin Mitchell’s simple checklist designed to help the public enjoy their ‘fun in the sun’ is as follows:

1. Plan ahead
Amandeep outlines: “While many may have tickets booked for events well in advance, if you’re heading for a spontaneous weekend away think ahead about food options and whether taking your own food could be the best option.”

2. Drink plenty of fluids
“This summer is already proving to be one of the hottest, so take care to ensure that you have plenty of water to hand to keep hydrated.”

3. Think about where you buy food from
“So many festivals have a vast number of options, so choosing wisely can be the first step towards avoiding potentially nasty illnesses. Aim for outlets which look clean and are observing a good level of hygiene.”

4. Always choose food cooked fresh
“Many outlets will prepare food in advance of major queues and crowds, but it is always a good option to try and select the most freshly prepared dishes if possible – rather than anything which looks like it has been  left out for several hours.”

5. If food looks undercooked, don’t eat it
“Always err on the side of caution if a dish or snack does not look like it has been cooked through. It is important to remember that bacteria can multiply in undercooked food and the consequences of eating the same can be grave.”

6. Don’t take perishables
“Like with undercooked food, any items which are likely to decay or go bad quickly may not be the best option to take with you.”

7. Use anti-bacterial hand gel
“This is an important must-have for festivals where general hygiene facilities may be in short supply. Hygiene products such as hand wipes or hand gel can be very useful in terms of preventing the spread of bacteria. ”

Jenny Morris, Head of the Institute of Food Safety, Integrity & Protection also confirms that the key to good hygiene are the ‘4Cs’ and these apply whether you are eating out or taking your own food to an outdoor event. The ‘4 Cs’ are:

1. Keep everything CLEAN
2. Keep cold food CHILLED
3. Make sure food is properly COOKED
4. Do not CROSS CONTAMINATE

Following on from the handy tips suggested by Irwin Mitchell, you may find that some food providers are displaying their Hygiene Rating scores, which tell you what the food inspector found at the last visit.  5 is very good, 4 is good, 3 is satisfactory, below that improvement is required.
 
As well as representing victims of illness outbreaks at festivals, Irwin Mitchell act for those affected by similar problems at holiday resorts across the globe, on cruise ships and other problems closer to home. The firm act for a child who contracted E-coli after visiting a petting farm in East Yorkshire and numerous people who have contracted gastric illness after purchasing food from restaurants and takeaway food outlets.




CASE STUDY

Among the illness victims that Irwin Mitchell represents is Kerry Goodson, from Wallsend. Kerry was among several people who instructed the specialist lawyers for help in relation to severe gastric illness symptoms she suffered after attending the Street Spice food festival in Newcastle in March 2013.

More than 400 people were affected by the problems linked back to the food festival, with 29 victims confirmed to have suffered from Salmonella. An investigation by Public Health England and Newcastle City Council concluded that uncooked curry leaves contaminated with different types of bacteria were the cause of the outbreak.

Investigators reported their findings back to the Food Standards Agency, with the recommendation that new advice is developed for the food industry and the public regarding the use of raw curry leaves.

Irwin Mitchell is continuing to work towards securing justice for Kerry and others regarding the problems they have experienced following their visit to the festival. 

The 33-year-old recalls: “When you fall ill after visiting an event like that you don’t realise the impact it can have on your health. I struggled for weeks with diarrhoea, abdominal pains and vomiting, as well as stomach cramps. Not only was I left in agony, I also needed to take time off work in order to recover fully from the illness. To make matters worse I continue to suffer with problems to this day, over a year on after the incident.

“When attending festivals you do put your faith in the stalls there and think that the food will be safe to consume - you just do not expect what I have been through to happen.  This is why I would always encourage people to take care when heading out to such events across the summer. Just being aware of the potential risks could make a huge difference.”


Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to UK illness claims