A Guide to Claiming Food Poisoning Compensation

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.


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.

What is food poisoning?

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. In a similar vein, 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 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.

It may be that, for example, the accident happened more than 3 years ago, or that you were partly at fault. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

It only takes a minute to find out - speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will confirm whether you have a claim. We will never put you under pressure to start a claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

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.

Check my claim

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, Fourteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

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

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, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Find out what your food poisoning claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Can I get an interim payment?

Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.

Should I set up a personal injury trust?

If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following a food poisoning injury, your benefits could be affected. In order to ring fence your compensation and protecting your benefits, you may be able to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?

Calculate my claim

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?

For adults, the general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after a food poisoning.

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

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

Will I still be able to claim for a food poisoning after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

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:

At work

If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Work Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)

If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:

Public Place Claims - What you need to know

Other claim types

Find details on another type of claim:

See list of other claims

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.

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 .

Read more about how no win, no fee works

Please note, under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

How can Quittance help?

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

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 612 7456 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 will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s 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.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

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.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert