There’s nothing worse than finding human hair in your sushi or a bug in your salad, and there have been plenty of cases in the news about foreign bodies in food. But what happens when you find something in your food that has caused you injury or illness? From glass and plastic to mould and even human tissue, these things have all been found in food before – and if you eat them then you could be injured or become ill as a result. The good news is that you could make a claim for personal injury compensation if this has happened to you.
You have a right to expect the food you buy and eat to meet certain health standards as laid out by the Food Standards Agency. They govern food safety in the UK under the Food Standards Act of 1999, which was set up to protect consumers. If you have found foreign bodies in food then you could contact Accident Advice Helpline to see if you could make a 100% no-win, no-fee* claim for personal injury compensation.
What foreign bodies in food are the most common?
Glass is one of the most common foreign bodies in food that people claim compensation for. In March 2016, there were at least four recalls for food found to be contaminated with glass, and whilst nobody was injured in these cases, it is still a serious issue. Glass can find its way into food products from a variety of unexpected sources, from broken light bulbs or windows in the production area to a shattered pair of safety goggles. Adequate lighting and attention to detail by staff can help to reduce the likelihood of contamination, but these types of accidents can and do still happen.
According to figures from the Food Standards Agency, there were 107 reported cases of physical contamination in 2012. Metal, pests, plastic and glass were amongst the most common foreign bodies in food, and all of these have the potential to cause illness or injury. Children are most at risk from foreign bodies in food – according to studies carried out in 2005, 16,878 foreign body injuries occurred in children aged 0-14.
What injuries could foreign bodies in food cause?
Finding a foreign body in your food isn’t just enough to put you off your meal or snack, it could cause serious physical injury, illness and psychological trauma. We’ve all had cases where we have found an insect in fruit or vegetables, but generally this is something that can’t be avoided. What happens if your food is contaminated with a foreign body such as glass or plastic?
The sharp edges of a piece of glass can cause serious internal injuries if swallowed, including tissue tears to the oesophagus and gastrointestinal tract. If glass becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract it can cause abdominal pains and blood in the stools. Common symptoms of swallowing glass include vomiting, chest pains, neck pain and the inability to swallow. Medical professionals may wait 24 hours to see if the glass passes through the system, but in severe cases they may use specialist equipment to remove the offending glass piece(s).
Other objects such as small rodents or pests, or even mould, could lead to food poisoning which can be extremely serious in children, the elderly or anybody who has a weakened immune system. In serious cases food poisoning may require hospitalisation. Psychological trauma after ingesting a foreign body is also common, and Accident Advice Helpline considers this as part of claims for compensation – many people need counselling to recover from the trauma of their accident.
What to do if you find a foreign body in your food
So what should you do if you find something untoward lurking in your food, either after shopping at a supermarket or dining out at your favourite restaurant? It’s a good idea to keep the foreign body – and the food it was in – if you can, but if this isn’t possible then a claim for personal injury should still be possible if you have been injured. Whatever you do, if you have the foreign body then do not give it back to the shop or restaurant in question as it could form important evidence if you later decide to claim injury compensation. In 2014, the FSA investigated 1,645 incidents of contamination – of these 390 incidents were caused by microbiological contamination and 191 were environmental contamination. This may not seem like a huge figure, but it is still higher than it should be.
It’s a good idea to photograph any evidence available, such as the foreign body and the food you found it in. If you have passed the foreign body you can keep it and the food in your freezer as valuable evidence, and ensure that you ask your doctor to write up details of any injuries in a medical report, which could be used if you decide to claim personal injury compensation within three years of your accident.
Should you make a personal injury claim?
It’s up to you whether or not to proceed with a personal injury claim – when you get in touch with Accident Advice Helpline, we won’t pressure you into making a claim. Whether you swallowed glass that was in your muffin or found pests in your salad, we can help you to get the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries, and our advisors offer advice on a no-obligation basis. You can get in touch with us by calling our freephone helpline on 0800 689 0500 (or call 0333 500 0993 from a mobile) to find out more about making a claim.
Even if you have taken time off work after your accident you can afford to make a claim with us as our lawyers work on a 100% no-win, no-fee* basis. You could even find out today how much compensation you could be entitled to by taking the 30-second test here on our website for an idea of what you could claim.