Call us Free on 0800 056 4110
Accidents & Illness Abroad Claims Guide

Food Poisoning Abroad Guide

Food poisoning is one of the most common illnesses that affect people on holiday. If you've suffered from it while abroad then our lawyers could help you claim compensation.

Hotels, restaurants, cruise ships and tour operators have a responsibility to ensure they're following food hygiene procedures properly, so that their customers aren’t put at risk. If we can prove that negligence on their part has caused your food poisoning, you may have a case.

If you're thinking of making a claim or need some advice on your options, contact us online or call us on 0800 056 4110 for a free initial consultation. Alternatively, you can read answers to some of our frequently asked questions about food poisoning below:

What Food Poisoning Illnesses Can I Claim For?

Food poisoning is a collective name for a number of different conditions caused by contaminated food, such as something that's been undercooked, or stored at the wrong temperature. The most common of these is gastroenteritis, and there are a few different kinds depending on what's caused it: bacterial, parasitic, or viral.

However, the condition is most commonly recorded as general undiagnosed gastroenteritis, which means it's not been possible to determine the exact cause beyond a contaminated source of food or drink.

Bacteria, parasites and viruses that commonly cause food poisoning include:

  • Campylobacter
  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Shigella
  • Listeria
  • Norovirus
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium

Back to top

How Can I Prove I Contracted My Illness In A Particular Place?

Food poisoning is quite a common condition, with over a million cases reported every year. With so many possible causes, it's important that we can prove your illness was caused in a particular place as part of a compensation claim.

Common incubation periods for food poisoning range from 12 to 72 hours, so the time leading up to when you fell ill is very important. You should think about what you ate or drank during that period, and where you were.

Keeping a diary of events can be useful, and receipts can help prove that you ate in a certain place. Other people might have fallen ill at the same time as you, which can support your case if they experienced similar symptoms after eating the same food, or at the same restaurant.

If you completed a customer service report form at the resort, or wrote a letter of complaint, then these can assist us with our investigation. You should visit your GP when you return home if you didn't seek medical assistance while you were away, as these records are also very helpful.

Back to top

What Are The Symptoms?

Diarrhoea and vomiting are the main symptoms of most kinds of food poisoning. Most people will experience a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature or fever
  • Aches and pains
  • General feeling of weakness

Back to top

Can I Claim If I've Fully Recovered From My Illness?

Food poisoning is a painful and unpleasant condition that typically puts someone out of action for at least a few days. While a full recovery is common after a case of food poisoning, it can often last long enough to ruin the remainder of a holiday, or keep you out of work for a while.

Even if you don't have any ongoing healthcare needs, you can still claim compensation for any costs you incurred in the short term and any lost wages from being out of work, as well as simply for the fact that you've missed out on your holiday because of someone else's negligence.

Back to top

What Can The Long-Term Health Effects Be?

Although most people do make a full recovery from food poisoning, some cases can cause complications that could lead to long-term health issues, such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can cause long-term stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation
  • Haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS), which can cause anaemia and kidney problems
  • Organ impairment or failure
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which causes persistent fatigue that affects everyday life and does not go away with rest or sleep

These long-term effects often result in the need for medical treatment and support, something we can help you access as part of the claims process. The ongoing impact on your health and quality of life will also affect the amount of compensation you can receive.

The most severe cases can tragically result in death, with hundreds of deaths linked to food poisoning in the UK every year. It's also possible to claim compensation following the death of a loved one from food poisoning.

Back to top

How Do People Typically Get Food Poisoning While Abroad?

Food poisoning is a particular risk abroad. Warmer temperatures make it harder to keep food fresh and different countries may have less strict food hygiene regulations.

Food poisoning is generally caused by food or drink that's been contaminated with bacteria, parasites or viruses. These are often things that occur naturally in food (particularly meat), but are made safe during the cooking process.

The most common causes of food poisoning are:

  • Undercooked food – particularly chicken, the cause of campylobacter.
  • Incorrectly stored food – either at the wrong temperature, or with other foods that can contaminate it.
  • Fresh or cooked food left out in warm temperatures for too long.
  • Food that has been exposed to flies.
  • Not reheating food properly.
  • Contaminated surfaces – such as if vegetables are prepared on the same surface as raw meat.
  • Person-to-person contact with someone who is infected.

Back to top

What Should Have Been Done To Minimise The Risk Of Food Poisoning?

Anyone providing food to the public – be that hotels, restaurants, or tour operators who have selected these venues for their customers – should ensure procedures around food hygiene are being followed.

When preparing food, best practice should be followed:

  • Washing hands, surfaces and utensils often and thoroughly
  • Keeping raw and prepared foods separate
  • Refrigerating or freezing perishable items
  • Cooking to a safe temperature, using food thermometers if needed
  • Throwing out food that has gone off

If someone does suffer from food poisoning, there should be procedures in place to make sure it doesn't spread to others:

  • Reporting and recording all incidents
  • Minimising the movement of people who have food poisoning
  • Warning other guests or passengers of the risk
  • Ensuring extra cleaning and sanitation is done to eliminate contamination

If you think that a hotel, restaurant or cruise provider has not followed these procedures in a way that has caused your food poisoning, then you could be entitled to compensation.

Back to top

Are The Rules Different In Different Countries?

Although there is some consistency within the EU, rules on food hygiene, as well as on how and when you can claim compensation, can vary in different countries around the world.

We have experience handling food poisoning claims around the world, but we commonly deal with cases following visits to:

Back to top

Contact Us

Contact us today

For a free initial consultation

Prefer not to call

Use our form

© 2017 Irwin Mitchell LLP is Authorised & Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our Regulatory Information.