Holiday food poisoning compensation claims

The following guide sets out what you should know about making a holiday food poisoning compensation claim.

How much can I claim?

In a single year, tour operators have paid £5.5m in compensation to British tourists who suffered food poisoning in a one resort alone.

A 2014 Food Standards Agency report found over half a million cases of food poisoning a year in the UK. In countries where food safety standards are lower, the risk of food poisoning can be much greater.

Our network of solicitors do not currently have the capacity to take on holiday-related injury and sickness claims outside the UK. It is recommended that you contact a personal injury specialist solicitor to discuss your options as soon as possible, as some jurisdictions have limitation dates of less than the three year limit that is standard in the UK.

Food poisoning is one of the more common types of holiday illness compensation claim, but cases can frequently be difficult to prove. Acting promptly to contact a specialist lawyer to discuss your options and gather evidence can improve your chances of making a successful claim.

Hotel food buffet

Food poisoning symptoms

Some individuals will develop symptoms quickly, within 30 minutes. Others may not experience symptoms for a week, or more, following ingestion of the contaminated food.

Symptoms of food poisoning can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Fever and exhaustion

However, food poisoning can also cause long-term gastrointestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. This makes getting a medical assessment of potential long term health issues a crucial step in the claims process.

If you accept an early settlement from a holiday company on the basis of the initial symptoms, but a more serious health condition develops later, it may be very difficult to claim any additional compensation for the longer-term consequences.

Contaminants which cause food poisoning

Toxic food contaminants can include:

  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Viruses
  • Chemicals

Most food poisoning is linked to bacterial contamination and symptoms can in milder cases pass within a day. For this reason, some forms of food poisoning can be difficult to prove upon your return home.

Witness statements of other affected holidaymakers can provide crucial evidence to support your claim.

Causes of bacterial food contamination

Common causes of bacterial food contamination are:

  • Insufficient cooking
  • Food being kept warm at low temperatures
  • Cross-contamination

Given the right conditions, bacteria in foods can multiply quickly. This can lead to outbreaks of food poisoning in hotels and resorts. Outbreaks can be extremely unpleasant, but the number of people affected makes it harder for the holiday company to argue that you caught the bug elsewhere on your holiday.

Types of bacteria which can cause food poisoning

Bacterial food poisoning is most frequently caused by:

  • Cryptosporodium - found in drinking water and swimming pools
  • Salmonella - found in raw meats, including poultry; unpasteurised milk; eggs and egg products; untreated water and seafood.
  • Campylobacter - found in raw meats, including poultry; unpasteurised milk and untreated water.
  • Botulin - a toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium. Found in soil and water deposits on vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
  • E. coli - found in the lower intestines of healthy humans and mammals. Certain strains of E-coli are toxic if ingested.

Do I have a claim for holiday food poisoning?

Do I have a claim?

Your solicitor will need a medical report from a qualified gastroenterologist. The report should detail your illness, treatment and any long-term effects, and can be arranged by your solicitor on your return home.

It is strongly advised by both medical and legal professionals that you seek medical attention for your illness as soon as possible, even if you are undecided about making a claim. Prompt medical advice can prevent symptoms worsening or developing into a chronic condition.

Claiming if you got food poisoning on a package holiday

The Package Travel Regulations 1992 apply if you contracted food poisoning on a package tour holiday. Under these Regulations, you may be able to make a claim from the tour operator. The Regulations apply if you were on holiday in the UK, or abroad.

Claims can be made for poor hygiene or food handling by providers including airlines, cruise ships, or hotels.

Claiming if you developed food poisoning on a holiday you organised yourself

If your holiday was in the UK, you may be able to make a claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. This Act imposes a duty on food retailers to sell products which are free from bacteria which could cause food poisoning.

If your holiday was abroad, local food safety legislation will apply.

If possible, ensure that you keep receipts to establish where you purchased the contaminated food. These receipts can provide evidence of liability for your claim.

Time limits for food poisoning claims

In the UK, food poisoning claims must be made within three years. In other countries, the time limits for making claims can be much shorter. Your solicitor will advise you of the applicable time limit for the country you were visiting when you were exposed to the source of the food poisoning.

How does No Win, No Fee work with food poisoning compensation claims?

No Win, No Fee food poisoning injury claims get underway with an injured claimant signing, with their lawyer, a "CFA", or Conditional Fee Agreement,.

A CFA sets out the service delivered by your solicitor and a "success fee" that will be deducted from your compensation after they win the case.

You are able to focus on your rest and recovery, knowing that there will be absolutely nothing to pay at the outset. You have no hidden charges when working with a Quittance personal injury solicitor.

Calculate my holiday food poisoning compensation

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our food poisoning compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

How much can I claim?

Meet the team

The nationwide panel of Quittance solicitors help injured people with all types of personal injury claims, from more minor injury cases to life-changing injuries. Our lawyers are chosen on the basis of their specialist knowledge and their track record in winning claims.

To meet more of the Quittance team, click here.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Emma Bell Employers and Public Liability Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
Jenny Jones, Senior litigator

About the author

With over 20 years' experience in the law, Jenny has spent the last decade specialising in personal injury, with a particular focus on industrial disease cases.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert