If a food allergy has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Food allergies trigger immune responses to certain foods, causing reactions from hives to anaphylaxis. Treatment includes dietary avoidance and emergency medication for severe cases.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a food allergy injury, we can help. If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
Food allergies affects between 1-2% of the UK population (food.gov.uk).
According to Allergy UK, more than 44% of people in the UK are affected by allergies.
An estimated two million people in the UK have food allergies, including 6 to 8 per cent of all children. According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), around 5,000 people are hospitalised each year due to allergic reactions to food.
Wheat, dairy products, peanuts, and seafood are among the foods most likely to evoke an allergic reaction.
Symptoms vary from person to person. Typically symptoms eczema, asthma, hives, allergic rhinitis, stomach pain and facial swelling. In the most severe cases, a person may enter anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening.
The majority of food allergy-related hospitalisations are caused by restaurants and takeaways giving misleading information about the allergenic ingredients contained in their food.
If you have suffered an allergic reaction to the food you have purchased, you may be able to claim food allergy compensation.
If you decide to make a food allergy claim, your personal injury solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
If you are looking for information on allergies symptoms and treatment, visit: allergies (nhs.uk).
Do I qualify for food allergy compensation?
If you've been injured or made ill in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, then you will be entitled to claim compensation for food allergy.
Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.
My injury was partly my fault - can I still claim?
Cases where the defendant and claimant are both partly to blame are actually quite commonplace in personal injury claims.
In our 2023 Personal Injury Claimant Survey, 13.99% of respondents believed they were partly responsible for their injuries, or were uncertain.
Even if your actions or negligence played a role in the accident, you could still be eligible for compensation. Cases with shared fault (contributory negligence) frequently settle through a split liability agreement.
How long do I have to claim food allergy compensation?
For most injury claims, you have up to 3 years from the date of your injury to start the claims process.
The 3 year limitation period does not apply to minors (under 18s). A parent, guardian or litigation friend can start a claim on a child's behalf up to their 18th birthday and the child has until their 21st birthday to claim for themselves.
How much compensation can I claim for a food allergy injury?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages is compensation awarded to cover any financial losses and expenses you incur as a result of your food allergy or negligent medical treatment. These damages aim to put you back in the financial position you would have been in, had your injury not occurred.
Special damages will also cover your medical treatment expenses, that might include antihistamines, epinephrine, corticosteroids and fluid resuscitation.
Average food allergy general damages compensation
The following food allergy payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).
|Digestive system||Moderate||Serious non-penetrating injury with ongoing symptoms||£15,260 to £25,240|
|Digestive system||Moderate||Moderate non-traumatic injury||£3,590 to £8,670|
|Digestive system||Severe||Severe toxicosis||£34,940 to £47,730|
|Digestive system||Serious||Penetrating wounds, lacerations or serious pressure||£6,010 to £11,450|
|Digestive system||Serious||Serious non-traumatic injury||£8,670 to £17,450|
|Digestive system||Minor||Minor non-traumatic injury||£830 to £3,590|
|Food poisoning||Moderate||Significant discomfort||£3,590 to £8,670|
|Food poisoning||Serious||Serious but short-lived||£8,670 to £17,450|
|Lung disease||Moderate||Slight breathlessness recovery in a few years||£9,670 to £18,910|
|Lung disease||Serious||Breathing difficulties needing use of an inhaler||£28,460 to £49,850|
|Lung disease||Severe||Life-threatening disease affecting a young person||£91,520 to £123,560|
Can I claim compensation for a psychological injury?
If you have suffered psychological harm in addition to a physical injury or illness, you are not alone.
According to our 2023 Personal Injury Claimant Survey shows that 29.03% of potential claimants sustained a psychological injury, 70.97% of which related to a physical injury.
Psychiatric harm is less obvious than physical injury, but the consequences can be just as difficult to deal with.
Our compensation calculator can estimate your compensation for psychological injuries. Or you can call us on 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor.
Full ingredient labelling
Full allergen and ingredient labelling is mandatory in the UK since October 2021. Critically, the legislation also applies to food prepared and sold on the premises.
What does the law currently say?
The Food Information for Consumers Regulations came into force in the UK on December 2014. The Regulations are designed to make it easier for allergy sufferers to find out about the presence of any allergenic ingredients in food when eating out.
Restaurants and takeaways, as well as shops that sell pre-packaged foods, must now warn customers about the main 14 food allergens that are present in the food they serve to customers. These are:
- Cereals containing gluten
- Crustaceans (prawns, lobster, crabs, crayfish)
- Molluscs (clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid)
- Mustard seed
- Sesame seeds
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts)
- Sulphur dioxide (sometimes used as a preservative in dried fruit.)
In pre-packed food, allergens must be listed on the food label. Restaurants and takeaways have flexibility in terms of how they deliver the allergy warning. For example, details of the allergens may be written on menus or explained verbally by staff.
Who is liable for a food-related allergic reaction?
In general, any business that serves or sells food is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their customers. If the establishment created a food containing one of the 14 major allergens and did not warn you about it, then the establishment could be liable if you become ill.
To establish liability, your solicitor will have to show that:
- The food you consumed contained a known allergen.
- The establishment did not give you an appropriate allergy warning.
- You suffered an allergic reaction as a result.
What if my allergic reaction was not immediate?
Your solicitor will need to prove that the food containing the allergen was consumed at the particular restaurant, not subsequently at another establishment.
What if I did not tell the restaurant staff about my food allergy?
14 major allergens
Restaurants and other food sellers must warn you about the presence of any of the 14 major allergens, regardless of whether you have notified them of your food allergy. If you did not mention, your food allergy it will not prejudice your claim.
However, if you are allergic to a different allergen (one not on the list of 14), then you are responsible for notifying staff of any food allergies before eating.
If you did not alert the staff of your allergy, you may still be able to claim. However, the courts may decide that you are partly responsible for your injuries and apportion blame using a split liability agreement.
How did your injury happen?
Food allergy claims are usually referred to as public place, or occupiers' liability, claims. Click on the icons below to learn more:
How we can help you with your injury claim
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About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.