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If Disney got sued, you can gain compensation for the restaurant’s allergies ignorance, too

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A recent lawsuit made headlines worldwide and brought to the attention of customers and restaurant runners alike the moral and legal obligation of taking allergies seriously. In February of this year, a Disney World restaurant was sued for neglecting a client’s food allergies and supplying a meal that was fatal for the consumer, who, in turn, was a reputable doctor at a renamed hospital. 

This remorseful occurrence doesn’t only emphasise how irreversibly damaging the consequences of food allergen ignorance can be for the consumer, but also the devastating aftermaths that takeaways, pubs, eateries and restaurants deal with when these conditions are treated lightly. More and more consumers opt for allergen-free foods, pushing the underlying market to value a whopping US$50,36KM this year and predictably hit US$ 102,69MN a decade from now. Equally, the likelihood of hearing such spine-chilling events rises with the increasing numbers of individuals detecting food allergies overnight. 

So, if you haven’t experienced or heard of such an accident, we hope the tendency sticks. But assuming you have close ones suffering from such conditions themselves or you suspect you can be allergic or intolerant to some foods, you must read on to know what you can do if you encounter such injuries at a restaurant.

Photo source: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-preparing-cooked-dish-boaDpmC-_Xo

What’s considered a food allergy?

The rising commonality of food allergies and intolerances can leave those unfamiliar with the symptoms or reactions perplexed as to which means what. We must first define the terms to clear out the waters so you know what counts as an allergy and what doesn’t. While intolerances lead to digestive issues like bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea, and dehydration, allergies are more severe and potentially fatal. 

A food allergy is the immune system’s physical reaction to a food protein it is allergic to; thus, it is distinct from dairy or gluten intolerances.

Here are some of the most common symptoms usually experienced as a response to food allergies: 

  • Swelling of body parts like the throat, face, tongue, lips, etc.
  • Nazal congestion, wheezing, or problematic breathing 
  • Belly pain, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting 
  • Fainting or light-headedness
  • Eczema, itching, or hives 
  • Mouth itching or tingling.

Who can be held liable if such an accident happens?

Takeaways, eateries, and restaurants providing deceptive, insufficient, or zero information about their foods’ allergenic constituents represent the first and foremost catalyst of the high numbers of food allergy-triggered hospitalisations. According to the Food Standards Agency in the UK, around 2.4 grownups and 6% to 8% of all youngsters have a type of food allergy. Reactions to these catalysers differ, but in some cases, they can be fatal. When food establishments are involved, the situation gets even more complicated, depending on the victim’s level of suffering. 

The same agency’s research found that nearly 5K individuals get hospitalised yearly due to such reactions. While once they’re recovered, they’re free of any additional risk, there’s something that offers the UK consumers solace in all this disturbance: the legal support received. From looking up a guide on how to sue for compensation to contacting a personal injury lawyer for legal advice, you have numerous efficient methods of making justice for yourself if a restaurant overlooked your food allergy. While you’re responsible for taking preventative and justiciary measures when consuming restaurant food, businesses have an even heavier duty of ensuring consumers are in the know with everything from their allergen lists to contacting the upper management if things go south. 

How is the consumer protected?

In the UK, pubs and restaurants have a duty of care towards their consumers, meaning that the law obliges them to take responsibility for what they offer their clients. The environment must be hygienic and safe, and consumers’ food allergies must always be prioritised. For instance, if you’re allergic to soybeans and the eatery doesn’t inform you the preparations could contain soybeans, they could become liable for the allergy-based injury provoked by their negligence.

For your claim to succeed, you’ll need strong proof that the third party who did you wrong breached their duty of care, thus triggering your allergic reaction. General damages could be paid to the victim if injuries belonging to categories like the following exist: 

  • Skin conditions like dermatitis, provoking rashes and irritation that need a few months of treatment 
  • Digestive system injuries that necessitate hospitalisation for a few days or weeks 
  • Short-lived food poisoning with symptoms persisting for up to a month 
  • Weeks-long food poisoning that brings about different, specific symptoms.

Informing staff of food allergies 

Eateries are obliged by law to provide knowledge of the food allergens their menu items may contain, usually listing this information on the foods’ packages or menus. Nevertheless, it is your decision if you notify the eateries’ staff of your food allergies. A restaurant can only be held accountable if they provide insufficient or incorrect information about their products on the menu or packaging, thus deceiving you into thinking the meals are safely consumable and leading you to incur food allergy injuries. 

You can always ask (and you’re advised to) for the intolerable ingredients to be eliminated from your food. In case the eatery can’t conform, you’ll be asked to choose another menu item. Many foods are already prepared when you ask for them; thus, taking out ingredients becomes impossible. 

You can only sue the eatery for allergic reactions in some specific situations, including the following two: 

  • You asked for a menu item free of the specific ingredient, and the establishment failed to warn you that your request was unfeasible
  • You enunciated your request, but your order got misplaced or not prepared accordingly.

Speak up. 

As mentioned, the wisest thing to do is always inform the restaurant staff about your food allergies. Choose something that will not poison you when your requirements are unmet. Even if you can make compensation claims and stand the grounds to win damages, this solace isn’t enough to put your health and well-being at risk. 

You may be in a challenging situation when suffering from allergies, but fortunately, the law is on your side. Restaurants must take their duty of care seriously to avoid legal consequences. 

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