How To Make Food Allergy Claims – Find out How To Claim Compensation For A Food Allergic Reaction?
A Guide To Food Allergy Compensation Claims
If you or someone close to you has any kind of food allergy, then you are dependent on other people to inform you of the allergen content of food items. This applies in many places including at restaurants, cafes and food retailers. If someone serving you food fails to give you the right information about allergen content, then it could lead to an allergic reaction. If this happens, you could be entitled to make a food allergy claim in response.
An allergic reaction from food can be very unpleasant and can have lasting or even fatal effects in the most severe cases. You could be entitled to compensation if you experience a food allergy because of the negligence of a restaurant or food outlet. Read on to learn more about how claims for food allergy reactions work. We can also advise on getting the right support if you want to make this type of claim.
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Do you have questions about making a food allergy compensation claim? Looking for support on making such a claim? You can contact us here at UK Law for free specialist advice about your case or other assistance.
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Services And Information
- Everything You Need To Know About Food Allergy Claims
- What Is A Food Allergy?
- Do Restaurants Have To Provide Allergen Information?
- Food Safety And Hygiene Practices
- What Are The 14 Main Allergens?
- Food Allergy Claims Compensation Calculator
- Could I Claim If I Failed To Say I Had A Food Allergy?
- Statistics – How Many People Suffer Food Allergies?
- How Much Time Do I Have To Make A Food Allergy Claim?
- I Suffered A Food Allergy, What Should I Do?
- Do You Handle Food Allergy Claims On A No Win No Fee Basis?
- Contact Us For More Help
- Food Allergy Resources
- FAQs About Food Allergy Claims
If you’re thinking of making a food allergy compensation claim, it’s important to know how it works. Within this guide, we explain what exactly is considered a food allergy. We also look at the legal obligations restaurants and other food outlets must follow regarding allergies.
We’ll also explain the steps to follow if you have grounds to make a food allergy claim. This guide also looks at relevant statistics on food allergy cases and the potential compensation you could receive.
Remember, if you have any questions, our team of personal injury claims advisers is on hand to help.
If you have a food allergy, that means your body wrongly sees the proteins in a certain type of food as a toxin. Consequently, the body’s immune system reacts to the food like you’ve been poisoned. This leads to numerous symptoms which can range between being trivial and lethal.
So how dangerous a food allergy is to a person can vary a lot. It depends on the severity of their allergy and how much of the allergen is consumed.
The moderate symptoms of a food allergy can include swelling, itchiness, nausea and diarrhoea. A high enough concentration of the allergen can lead to a very serious reaction called anaphylaxis. It’s also known as anaphylactic shock or toxic shock syndrome. Anyone experiencing anaphylaxis will become unconscious and eventually die if they do not quickly receive medical treatment.
People who are vulnerable to anaphylaxis may carry an emergency treatment on them. These are known as adrenaline auto-injectors or EpiPens. They can be used if a person starts experiencing anaphylaxis in order to stop the condition from becoming life-threatening. It can be self-administered or injected by someone else as long as they are trained on how to use it.
The graph above is from a survey organised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as part of its Food and You 2 initiative. 9,319 UK adults were surveyed and the graph shows what information respondents looked for when buying food.
It found 19% often looked for allergen information, while 31% said they occasionally looked for the same type of info. Nearly half of all respondents said they never look for allergy information.
Food business operators in the retail and catering sector have to follow certain laws regarding allergen information and the labelling of their food. These laws cover restaurants, cafes and other places which sell food. In England, Scotland and Wales, the following food laws are overseen by the Food Standards Agency.
In summary, food businesses operators need to provide allergen information to consumers on both prepackaged and non-prepackaged food and drink. They are also legally required to handle and manage food allergens effectively during food preparation. Food businesses operators need to also make sure that their staff receive appropriate training on allergens.
There are different ways a food provider can deliver allergen information to consumers. For instance, prepacked food can feature labelling which clearly indicates the allergens contained within. At restaurants, the menus can inform readers if a particular meal contains (or might contain) allergens.
Restaurant staff can also ask customers directly if they have any allergens. Alternatively, a customer may ask the staff first if a meal they are considering ordering has allergies. A customer may also ask which specific meals they can safely eat. Or they could ask if a meal that normally contains allergens can be changed to have them removed. The restaurant should provide an accurate answer to such questions.
It should be noted that restaurants aren’t legally obliged to remove an allergen. They may decline to do so, or say it is not possible. However, if they agree to remove an allergen and do not, this could be considered negligence.
From October 2021, an additional law will come into effect in the UK regarding food labelling. Known as Natasha’s Law, it will require businesses to provide full ingredient and allergen labelling on foods that are pre-packed for direct sale.
By law, food business operators need to follow certain procedures when handling and preparing food and drink which contains allergens. Failing to comply with these can lead to harm to consumers with allergies and a business can be found to have been negligent.
One example of how food safety and hygiene practices can go wrong is cross-contamination. A food business worker who prepares a meal that contains allergens could spread traces from it onto another food that isn’t meant to have any allergens. This could occur due to inadequate training or a lack of care by the worker. Some restaurants and other food businesses use the phrase ‘may contain’ to inform customers that a meal could have an allergen that’s not normally present.
Cross-contamination can unintentionally happen, especially if different types of food are made on the same premises. Nevertheless, food businesses operators need to take reasonable precautions to minimise the risk of exposing consumers to allergens. Food must be safe to eat and people should have the info they require to make a safe choice.
Under UK law, food businesses must inform you if the food and drink they provide contains any of the 14 main allergens identified as the most potent and prevalent. These 14 allergens that food providers must make people aware of include the following:
This plant can be found in a variety of meals including salads, soups and certain meat products.
Cereals containing gluten
Gluten can be found in popularly used cereals including wheat, rye, barley and oats. Bread, cakes and pasta are among the popular foods which often contain gluten.
Crabs, lobster, prawns and scampi are classed as crustaceans.
Eggs are often used in cakes, mayonnaise, pasta and certain meat products.
Fish or fish sauce can appear in a diverse range of foods.
Lupin is a plant that can potentially be found in flour.
Milk is commonly used in butter, cheese, cream and yoghurt.
Anyone with a mollusc allergy should avoid mussels, land snails, squid and whelks.
Mustard can come in the form of liquid, powder and seeds.
Peanuts are a legume that grows underground, so they are sometimes called a groundnut.
This type of seed can be found in certain types of bread, especially buns used for hamburgers. Sesame seeds can also feature in hummus, tahini and salads.
Soybeans or soya beans are a plant that is particularly popular in oriental food.
Sulphur dioxide and sulphites
This ingredient is often featured in dried fruits and alcoholic beverages.
Not to be confused with peanuts, these types of nuts grow on trees and include almonds, hazelnuts and cashew nuts.
If you are looking to make a food allergy compensation claim, you may have several questions. One of them could be how much you’ll receive from compensation if your case is successful.
Predicting a specific compensation figure for a food allergy case is difficult. There are many factors that are weighed up when compensation is being finalised. However, with the aid of the Judicial College guidelines, we can project some of the payment you could receive based on certain general damages which will likely be considered.
Injury Severity Compensation
Toxicosis/Food Poisoning Severe £36,060 to £49,270
Toxicosis/Food Poisoning Serious But Short-Lived £8,950 to £18,020
Toxicosis/Food Poisoning Significant Discomfort For A Few Weeks £3,710 to £8,950
Toxicosis/Food Poisoning Disabling Pain For Some Days Or Weeks £860 to £3,710
Mental Anguish Fear Of Impending Death/Reduction In Expectation Of Life £4,380
Psychiatric Damage Generally Severe £51,460 to £108,620
Psychiatric Damage Generally Moderately Severe £17,900 to £51,460
Psychiatric Damage Generally Moderate £5,500 to £17,900
Psychiatric Damage Generally Less Severe £1,440 to £5,500
In the table above, you can use the estimated figures provided below to get a projection on the compensation you could receive from your food allergy claim. Remember to only treat the figures as estimates. Also, additional damages/losses which are not covered on this table may be factored into your final compensation award.
For a more accurate estimate of the amount of compensation you could receive in your case, you can contact UK Law for free specialist advice.
If you experience a food allergy at a restaurant and you did not inform the restaurant about your allergy, you could still make a personal injury claim.
When claiming against a food business because of an allergy, negligence by the business needs to be proven by the claimant.
If your case goes to court, then it could be ruled that there is split liability if you didn’t mention your allergy prior to the incident. That’s because a court could rule that you could have done more to prevent your food allergy from being triggered. Therefore, you’ll only be entitled to a portion of the compensation offered. However, full blame could still be put on the food provider if your allergic reaction came from something which had no allergy warning.
A 2016 report from the Food Standards Agency found that 1-2% of UK adults have a food allergy. It was also found that 5-8% of UK children have a food allergy. With these percentages combined, the FSA estimates that about two million people in the UK have at least one food allergy. This does not include people with food intolerance, which isn’t the same as a food allergy.
Research has also found that food allergies can have a psychological impact, especially on parents. A 2016 study (from Birdi, G., R. Cooke and R. Knibb) found that parents of children with a food allergy reported higher stress, anxiety and depression compared to parents of children with no food allergy.
Do you intend to make a personal injury claim because you had an allergic reaction to food or drink? If so, you may ask how much time you have to make such a claim. You can pursue this type of claim as long as you start it within three years from the date the food allergy incident occurred.
Under certain circumstances, the three-year time limit does not apply. If a child suffers from a food allergy, the three-year time limit is frozen until they reach the age of 18. A child can start a claim on their own behalf once they’re 18 years old. On the same day the child reaches 18, the three-year time limit begins.
Alternatively, before the child reaches 18, a food allergy claim could be started on the child’s behalf by a representative. This chosen representative, which could be a parent or guardian or another appointed official, is known as a litigation friend.
Another exception to the three-year time limit applies if a person affected by a food allergy lacks the mental capacity to claim on their own. In severe food allergy cases, a person’s injuries could be bad enough to prevent them from making a claim. In this scenario, the three-year time limit is suspended until the person is recovered enough to be able to claim on their own. Alternatively, a litigation friend can start a claim for the injured person on their behalf before they recover.
If you experience food allergy symptoms, you may have reason to make a personal injury claim. The provider of the food that triggered your allergy may have acted negligently. You may ask though which steps you should take in response.
The first thing you should do if you experience a food allergy incident is to seek medical care. It’s important you get whatever treatment is required to prevent your symptoms from getting worse. You should collect evidence from any medical care you receive. This can be used to support your claim later.
The next step is to collect other evidence to support your potential compensation claim. You’ll want to get proof that establishes how your food allergy was triggered. You also want evidence of negligent behaviour from the restaurant/food provider involved. Evidence can include photos and witness statements.
When you’ve collected evidence, contact a solicitor who can help with your food allergy claim. We recommend you select a solicitor who has experience in dealing with personal injury claims centred around food allergies. You can contact us at UK Law for advice and other support on your potential claim. We can even connect you with our panel of specialist personal injury solicitors who can help you with a claim.
Your chosen solicitor will review your potential case. If they are confident in your chances of succeeding, they will then formally start your case. Your solicitor will help guide you through all the following steps.
By signing such an agreement with our panel of solicitors, you’ll receive certain guarantees which provide financial benefits.
Under a No Win No Fee agreement, you will only need to pay your solicitor for their service if your personal injury claim is a success. A small percentage of your compensation will be taken as payment to cover their costs. The amount that can be deducted is capped by law.
Before the case is concluded, you won’t need to pay any fees upfront or as the case is progressing. Signing a No Win No Fee agreement also means you don’t need to pay your solicitor’s legal fees if the case is unsuccessful.
Looking for advice or other support on a food allergy claim? Our panel of lawyers can offer you specialist advice. You can contact UK Law online or by phone. We can answer any questions you may have about making a food allergy claim.
You can get more insight into food allergy claims and the laws related to food and drink safety by checking out the links below:
This NHS page is useful if you want to learn more about food allergies. It includes detailed sections on the causes, symptoms and treatments relevant to this condition.
This PDF presentation created by the Food Standards Agency neatly summarises the 14 major allergens. It lists examples of the types of food and drink which can contain each of the different major allergens.
This Government press release details how Natasha’s law is designed to protect allergy sufferers buying food. It also explains the background to the introduction of this law, which applies from October 2021 onwards.
If you’ve been injured in an RTA and need the support of a solicitor, this guide will help.
Learn more about accident at work claims here.
Here’s our guide to slips, trips and falls.
Can you sue a restaurant for food allergy?
You could claim compensation from a restaurant if the food you bought from them caused you to suffer from a food allergy-related illness. For the claim to succeed, your case will need to prove that the restaurant acted negligently to trigger your food allergy.
Are severe food allergies considered a disability?
A life-threatening allergy can be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010. For the purposes of the act, a worker is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a significant effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. This can include preparing and eating food.
Can you sue a company for an allergic reaction?
You may be able to claim against a company if you believe they caused you to have an allergic reaction. You will need to prove that negligence from the company contributed to your allergic reaction.
How long does it take for a food allergen to leave your system?
The amount of time a food allergen stays in the body can vary. It could last for just a few hours or as long as several days. It depends on the amount of food eaten and the severity of the allergy.
Can I claim if the allergic reaction made an illness worse?
Your compensation claim for an allergic reaction can account for injuries and illnesses which it created or aggravated. That’s as long as it’s established that your allergic reaction directly contributed to these issues.
Thanks for reading our guide on making a food allergy claim.
Guide by PD
Edited by HL