Pop-up restaurant food poisoning claims

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Jenny Jones

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A guide to making a No Win No Fee pop-up restaurant food poisoning claim

It's possible to bring a food poisoning claim against restaurants, caterers, and even a friend who gives a dinner party but some claims may be more problematic than others, as this article shows.

No restaurant-goer is entirely safe from the scourge of food poisoning. In 2009, more than 500 guests at Heston Blumenthal's renowned Fat Duck restaurant were struck down by the dreaded Norovirus. Health officials blamed the outbreak on contaminated shellfish as well as weaknesses in the restaurant's food safety procedures a finding hotly disputed by Mr Blumenthal.

At the time the Fat Duck was widely considered to be the best restaurant in the world. This begs the question, if a leading food establishment can still fall short on food hygiene, what about the food you are buying from pop ups?

What the law says

When it comes to food safety, the law does not make a distinction between brick-and-mortar restaurants and pop ups, which usually take the form of mobile vans, food trucks, market stalls and marquees.

The most important food safety regulations are Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs and The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended) (equivalent regulations apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

These rules set out the basic food safety requirements for all types of food service business. They cover such things as:

  • position of the pop up to avoid the risk of contamination, for example, away from animals and pests?
  • the cleanliness and repair of the premises
  • availability of hot and cold water supplies
  • personal hygiene and hand washing facilities
  • hygienic and where necessary, temperature-controlled, food storage.

One of the key requirements of the law is that all eateries, including pop ups, must be able to show the processes they follow to make sure food is safe to eat and have this written down.

So can I sue a pop up restaurant in the same as any other restaurant

The main difficulty with proving a claim for food poisoning is showing that your illness was caused by the food you ate in the restaurant. At the very least you will need a doctor's note confirming that you had food poisoning and the date on which you had it. You will then need to show that, on the balance of probabilities, food from a particular restaurant caused your illness.

Pop up restaurants throw up additional problems, if you will pardon the pun. By their very nature, pop ups are temporary. If you do unfortunately suffer food poisoning after purchasing food from a pop up, the owner may be difficult to track down. Even if you locate the pop up, it may no longer exhibit the environmental conditions that led to you contracting food poisoning from the pop up in its previous location.

Secondly, while restaurants must take out Personal Liability Insurance, insurance is not yet mandatory for pop ups. Without insurance, you may find that the pop up does not have enough money to pay your claim.

Until liability insurance becomes compulsory, prevention may be better than cure. Choose a pop up that displays a Food Hygiene Certificate and use your common sense when deciding whether food safety protocols are being observed.

Quittance can help

If you have suffered food poisoning after eating food from a pop up restaurant, call Quittance today. Quittance offers a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your options and advise you if you have a claim.