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Suing A Restaurant For An Allergy

Have you had an allergic reaction from a restaurant or food retailer? We may be able to assist you in claiming compensation.

The solicitors at Jefferies are waiting to discuss your potential claim. Call us on 0800 342 3206 today or contact us online via our website.

Allergic Reactions

The auto-immune system can trigger an allergic reaction when it reacts in a hostile way to specific food ingredients. Roughly 2 million people in the UK and between 6-8% of children have a food allergy to some degree.

An allergic reaction can occur through digestion, inhalation, skin contact or – in extreme cases – just close proximity to an allergen. The immune system releases histamine because it believes it is under attack from the allergen in question. Severe reactions can lead to anaphylaxis shock. This is where the body over-reacts to the foreign body. People can react to allergens in a variety of ways and many reactions are of a mild nature. However, sometimes they can be fatal.

The food standards agency has found that roughly 5,000 people every year are hospitalised following an allergic reaction related to food. Historical cases, such as that of a girl dying from a severe reaction to sesame seeds, mean that it is crucial for businesses to follow the strict rules which promote consumer safety.

The causes of an allergic reaction

The most common allergic reactions seem to result from dairy products, wheat, peanuts and seafood. These reactions can vary quite considerably but most often include symptoms such as stomach pain, a red itchy rash, or facial and throat swellings.

Takeaways and restaurants that mislead or omit information about the allergenic ingredients in their foods is the main reason hospitalisations related to food allergies occur.

How to bring a claim?

You may be entitled to bring a compensation claim against a company or restaurant if you have suffered from an allergic reaction due to food that you have purchased and consumed.

The Food Information for Consumers Regulations came into force in the UK in 2014. The main purpose behind these regulations was to help provide transparency for food allergy suffers when eating out. This is because it is often hard to find out the allergenic ingredients of dishes and therefore care should be taken when eating out.

It is now a requirement for restaurants and takeaways, as well as shops that sell pre=packaged foods, to warn consumers about 14 key food allergens that are included in any food they serve to customers. Those who have an allergy to one of these ingredients can, therefore, identify and avoid this before it inflicts any harm. This list of key ingredients comprises of:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans (prawns, lobster, crabs, crayfish)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Lupin
  • Mustard seed
  • Molluscs (clams, mussels, oysters, whelks, squid and snails)
  • Nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts)
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide (used sometimes as a preservative in dried fruit)

Pre-packed food must display allergens on the food label packaging. There is some flexibility given to restaurants and takeaways, as they may choose the way in which the deliver the warning. For example, some restaurants may use a policy of writing the allergens on the menus or verbally explaining the ingredients to the customers.

How can I claim compensation for an allergic reaction?

An establishment can be held accountable if a customer falls ill and they have failed to inform the customer about a dish that contains one of the 14 major allergens.

In order to prove liability you might have to demonstrate that:

  • The organisation didn’t display adequate allergy warnings
  • The food consumed contained a recognised allergen
  • The claimant consequently suffered an allergic reaction

It must be shown, if the reaction was not immediate, that the allergen was consumed at the specific restaurant and not at home or elsewhere.

I didn’t tell the restaurant staff about my allergy. Can I still claim?

Customers must be warned about the presence of the 14 main allergens and this is necessary regardless of whether the customer makes them aware of any allergies. Your claim will not be dismissed because you failed to mention an allergy that falls within this list.

However, if the customer has an allergy to a different ingredient that is not covered by the law, they should make the restaurant or outlet aware of this. It is worth getting in touch with a solicitor anyway because sometimes customers who do not alert staff of their allergy can still bring a claim.

Allergic reaction compensation claims

These cases vary widely and are often dependent on the type of symptoms experienced combined with the timeframe for recovery. There are two parts to any personal injury claim. The first part relates to ‘general damages’ and refers to the compensation owed for the actual injury of the allergic reaction. Our solicitors will take account of:

  • Life-changing injuries
  • Mental trauma
  • Pain and suffering due to the allergic reaction

The second part refers to ‘special damages’ and includes:

  • Adaptions to the home
  • Medical expenses (inc. future medical expenses)
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Additional transport costs

Get in touch with Jefferies Solicitors today

Here at Jefferies, we have an expert team of no win, no fee solicitors. They have experience in all kinds of allergic reaction claims. We recommend contacting us if you believe you are entitled to compensation. Our friendly team will ensure that you are guided through the entire legal process and reap the results you so rightly deserve.

You can reach us on 0800 342 3206 or get in touch online via our website.

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