Restaurant accidents: Food poisoning

There is nothing worse to spoil what could have been a good meal than being struck down by a bout of food poisoning. For most sufferers of food poisoning, the symptoms are extremely unpleasant and can lead to absence from work.

But, thankfully they rarely lead to serious, long-term health problems. However, for infants, the elderly and others with poor immune systems, the effects of food poisoning can be deadly.

How can I contract food poisoning in a restaurant?

Food can become contaminated at any stage during its production, processing or cooking, from accidents at work. Some of the reasons for food poisoning that may occur in a restaurant are listed below:

  • Failing to cook food thoroughly. Particular attention needs to be paid to pork and poultry;
  • Improper storage of food.  Some foods need to be stored at a temperature below 5°c or colder in order to stop the spread of bacteria;
  • Leaving cooked food unrefrigerated for an extended period of time;
  • Eating food that has been touched by someone who is ill with diarrhoea and vomiting;
  • Cross-contamination (the spread of bacteria, such as E. coli, from contaminated foods).

What are the most common causes of food poisoning?

According to statistics published by the NHS, in the UK, campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. Campylobacter bacteria are usually found on raw or undercooked meat (particularly poultry), unpasteurised milk, and untreated water. It is considered to be responsible for around 460,000 cases of food poisoning, 22,000 hospitalisations and 110 deaths each year, and most of these cases come from undercooked chicken and liver pâté.

Salmonella bacteria are often found in raw meat and poultry. They can also be passed into dairy products such as eggs and unpasteurised milk.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

The appearance of the symptoms of food poisoning depends on the type of food poisoning contracted. In some cases, they may start as early as 1 hour after consuming tainted food and in extreme cases such as Campylobacter, they make take up to 10 days to appear. The symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (Blood in the stool can be an indication of food poisoning)
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive salivation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Partial loss of vision or speech
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Muscle paralysis

If you suffer from any of these symptoms after consuming what you believe to be contaminated food, then you should consider consulting your doctor. You may be entitled to compensation.

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