Is a business liable for food poisoning incidents?

PUBLISHED 14 Jan 2020

Restaurant and takeaway food takes up nearly $100 of the average Australian household’s weekly budget. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aussies spend more money on takeaway and eating at restaurants than their home utilities or education.

That’s a lot of food — and a lot of risk of food poisoning. So when you get violently ill because of some takeaway sandwiches or after a sit-down dinner at your favourite upscale steakhouse, what legal recourse do you have?

What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness) occurs when you eat anything containing a dangerous virus or bacteria, such as salmonella or E. coli. Symptoms can occur immediately or within several days. They usually include nausea and abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fever.

There may also be more serious long-term effects from food poisoning, including kidney failure, brain damage or even death. And some groups are more at-risk, including pregnant women, young children, the elderly or those persons with weakened immune systems.

How does food poisoning happen?
Food poisoning occurs when food is improperly prepared or stored — such as expired produce or undercooked meat. The contamination can occur because of the environment or because a sick employee handled the food. Proper hygiene standards may not have been met. Even water can be contaminated.

Can you build a case around food poisoning?
This is the key question, and it depends on some specifics.

Food poisoning usually passes quickly, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t costs incurred. Consider lost wages, medical bills or general pain and suffering.

If you think you have a claim against a business, you need to act quickly. The success of the claim will rest on evidence proving the food you ate was contaminated. This may involve testing of stool samples, testing of leftovers from the meal, or simultaneous claims of food poisoning from the same restaurant. In fact, a class-action lawsuit can significantly increase the effectiveness of your claim. You may even find that one has already been filed.

If you take action, you should move quickly. Your legal team can help you gather the information, evidence and tests necessary to make your claim. They can also help you evaluate the impact your illness has had on your life. For information on making a public liability claim based on a case of food poisoning, contact our team today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.