Food Poisoning Compensation Claims

If you have been affected by food poisoning we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered food poisoning and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

In our guide to claiming food poisoning compensation:

Can I claim compensation for food poisoning?

If you have suffered food poisoning on holiday, after eating out at a bar or restaurant, or buying food or drink from a shop, you may be able to claim compensation for your illness.

To start a No Win, No Fee food poisoning claim, your illness must usually have happened in the last three years.

How do I prove I had food poisoning?

Research published by the Food Standards Agency suggests that more than 500,000 British people seek treatment for food poisoning each year. Since the majority of people do not visit their GP for these illnesses, it is likely that patient numbers represent only a fraction of total food poisoning cases.

Most cases of food poisoning clear up within a few days and, because people consume food from a variety of providers, cases can be difficult to prove.

Acting promptly to contact a specialist solicitor to discuss your options can make it easier to gather suitable evidence, and can improve your chances of making a successful personal injury claim.

Can I claim for food poisoning if I didn't see a doctor?

It depends. You may still be eligible to claim compensation if your solicitor can prove:

  • You suffered food poisoning, and
  • Another person or organisation caused your food poisoning.

If you did not visit a doctor or hospital to treat your symptoms, you may still be able to prove you were affected. You may be able to refer to any record of complaints you made at the time, emails, SMS or other communications or evidence of time you had to take off work during your recovery.

You may also have a stronger claim if your food poisoning was part of an outbreak that affected several other people.

What food poisoning symptoms can I claim for?

Food poisoning is caused by harmful bacteria, viruses or parasites on food entering the stomach and intestine. These pathogens can poison the body by damaging the lining of the intestines or by producing harmful toxins.

Symptoms range from minor to very serious and include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Blood in the stools
  • Fever

Symptoms can appear half an hour after eating contaminated food or can present over several days as the bacteria multiplies to dangerously high levels.

Some people will fall ill for just a few hours, whereas others may be ill for weeks. In very severe and recurring cases, food poisoning can cause nervous system damage and other permanent health issues.

Irritable bowel syndrome can also develop as a result of a severe bout of food poisoning, leading to life-altering, long term consequences.

Which bacteria cause food poisoning?

The overwhelming majority of reported food poisoning cases are attributable to the following organisms.


Campylobacter is the most common food-borne bacteria, accounting for 280,000 cases of food poisoning each year. Four out of five cases are caused by contaminated poultry. The bacteria may also be present on meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.


Salmonella is responsible for the most hospital admissions - around 2,500 each year. The bug is most commonly found in meat, poultry, eggs, unpasteurised milk and seafood. Incidences of salmonella poisoning have declined consistently in the UK. However, it remains a primary cause of holiday food poisoning claims affecting tourists travelling to locations where food hygiene standards are lower than in the UK.

E. Coli

E. coli poisoning is caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Hand washing before preparing food is essential to prevent contamination.


The cryptosporidium microorganism lives in water. Large outbreaks of cryptosporidium poisoning typically occur when drinking water becomes contaminated due to inadequate filtration to remove the parasite.


Norovirus and rotavirus are highly contagious viruses passed by poor hand hygiene or eating contaminated food. They are responsible for an estimated 74,000 cases of food poisoning each year, notably occurring in closed environments, leading to illness aboard a cruise ship for example, or in a hospital or nursing homes.

Contact with contaminated surfaces can lead to outbreaks of epidemic proportions in such environments.

Do I need to know what virus or bacteria caused my food poisoning?

No, although identification may help your claim.

If you sought medical attention when you had symptoms, the doctor may have taken samples to identify the specific virus or bacteria that caused your food poisoning.

In most cases, identifying the cause won't affect the compensation you receive, although it might strengthen your case. For example, knowing the specific cause may help narrow down where and how you were exposed.

Do I have a food poisoning claim?

You should be able to make a food poisoning injury claim if your injury happened:

  • in the last three years, and;
  • someone else was to blame, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.
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Claim eligibility - Common questions

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a food poisoning claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

What if I can't prove who caused the food poisoning?

Your solicitor will work on your behalf to assess your food poisoning claim and gather evidence. They will identify the party responsible for your accident.

How much compensation can I claim for food poisoning?

The amount of money you could claim for your food poisoning will depend on:

  • the extent 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 food poisoning has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a food poisoning? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Food poisoning compensation amounts

The following food poisoning payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fifteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.

Example Amount
Digestive system
Serious non-penetrating injury with ongoing sympto £13,380 to £22,130
Moderate non-traumatic injury £3,150 to £7,600
Severe toxicosis £30,630 to £41,860
Penetrating wounds, lacerations or serious pressure £5,280 to £10,040
Serious non-traumatic injury £7,600 to £15,200
Minor non-traumatic injury £730 to £3,150
Food poisoning
Significant discomfort £3,150 to £7,600
Serious but short-lived £7,600 to £15,200

What is the average injury compensation for a food poisoning claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a food poisoning will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your food poisoning compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

What if I am not yet sure of the extent of my injury?

If you have not yet sought medical attention, your solicitor will arrange a medical assessment for you ASAP. If you are awaiting test results, a claim can still be started. Once the extent of the injuries are known, the settlement can be calculated.

Calculate my food poisoning compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a food poisoning injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your food poisoning claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a food poisoning claim take?

How long it can take to settle a food poisoning claim can vary considerably.

For example, a simple liability accepted injury claim might be concluded in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a claim can take substantially longer. Normally an injury claim takes 4 to 9 months. Read more: How long will my claim take?

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your food poisoning claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

No win, no fee

No win, no fee takes the risk out of making a food poisoning claim. If you don't win any compensation, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a food poisoning injury compensation claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my food poisoning claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my food poisoning claim?

If your food poisoning claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Why do most solicitors charge 25%?

25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. food poisoning claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Food poisoning FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make a food poisoning claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the food poisoning to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your food poisoning claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a food poisoning after 3 years?

Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.

However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim food poisoning compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a food poisoning claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher