Are Restaurants Liable for Food Allergies?
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Are Restaurants Liable for Food Allergies?
Many people suffer from food allergies and there are a number of different foods and products which you may have an allergy to. If you have a food allergy, you will be required to rely heavily on others to inform you on exactly what is included in the food you are served, so you may wonder, “are restaurants liable for food allergies?” We have included some information below regarding a restaurants responsibilities when it comes to informing customers of allergens in foods, and making a claim for personal injury following an allergic reaction to a food.
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy occurs when your body does not process certain foods correctly, mistaking the proteins as toxins resulting in your immune system kicking in to fight the food. Symptoms of food allergies include itching or burning, an itchy rash, swelling, sickness, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea and cramps in the stomach.
If you have symptoms of a food allergy, be sure to seek medical attention to ensure proper diagnosis.
How Are Restaurants Liable for Food Allergies?
If you suffer from a food allergy, it could be an allergy to wheat, nut, mustard, egg, shellfish or dairy products. Restaurants and food chains are required to inform customers of trace amounts of these products in their food. However, restaurants don’t always include an ingredients list for their food, resulting in allergic reactions.
Your rights to make a claim if a restaurant fails to provide allergen information resulting in a food allergy or food poisoning comes from the Food Information for Consumers Act 2014. This act places a duty of care on food vendors and restaurants, and they are now required to provide detail regarding allergenic ingredients in all foods.
If you have a food allergy, you should always make the staff aware that you have an allergy, request information on the ingredients used to make certain foods and request information on the risk of cross contamination of ingredients during preparation of food.
You an make a claim for compensation in relation to a food allergy suffered in a restaurant in one of two scenarios:
- If the staff serving the food gave you incorrect information. You are required to have asked the member of staff serving your food for information regarding the ingredients in the food. You should make the staff in the restaurant aware that you have an allergy. If for example, you asked a member of staff if a certain meal was gluten free, and they wrongly advised you that it was, and after eating it you suffered from an allergic reaction, you may have grounds to make a a claim for compensation. However, you will need to provide evidence that the staff gave you the wrong information, which can be difficult. It may be useful of there was a witness present who can testify to this in your claim.
- If the menu contains the wrong information. To hold the restaurant liable for a food allergy, the menu in the restaurant must clearly state that something is free from allergens for example, it may state that a type of dish is ‘gluten-free’. If you were to then order that dish and suffer an allergic reaction, you could be entitled to claim for compensation. This scenario is easier to evidence as you can simply obtain a copy of the menu where the information is held.
It is worth noting that if you do not ask or enquire about the allergens contained in the food where the menu does not contain any information on the allergen ingredients, then this will impact the level of compensation you may be entitled to. However, if the menu contains the information on there and it happens to be incorrect, then you do not need to have asked the serving staff too. It important to show that you tried to minimise the risk of your allergy by obtaining some information where none is readily available.
Claims in Relation to Other Types of Food
You, as the consumer, also have rights to claim compensation where you have suffered an allergy from packaged foods under the Consumer Protection Act. Under this Act, it the responsibility of food manufacturers to ensure they provide food allergen labelling on their products. These labels must include clear warnings of ingredients which may cause an allergic reaction on food items.
If the food labels are damaged or fall off the food itself, then you can argue that you were not warned about the allergic ingredients in the food which can give rise to a food allergy claim where the manufacturer will be held liable.
In October 2021, a new law will come into effect which requires food labels on pre-packed foods for direct sale to clearly show allergen information.
How to Make A Claim for a Food Allergy?
Firstly, it is important to seek legal advice from a regulated Solicitors like Beacon Law in order to ensure that you have a potential claim for compensation.
Should you wish to speak to Beacon Law, we can assist you in assessing the merits of your claim so that you can progress with the case with minimal risk. If you decide to proceed with your food allergy claim, we will notify the Restaurant or Manufacturer of a claim being brought by you and the circumstances surrounding the claim.
We will assist you in obtaining all the evidence and information you need to strengthen your case. We will liaise and negotiate with the other party to ensure the maximum compensation you are entitled to is recovered.
For further information regarding the claims process, see here.
Why Beacon Law?
At Beacon Law, we are a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. We hold vast experience in dealing with personal injury matters and will ensure that you are represented at the best ability. We will act in your best interest and under your instructions at all times as our commitment is to you, as our client.
We act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, which means that under our funding agreement, you will not be liable to pay any legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful.
Should you wish to discuss your potential food allergy claim with us, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.