E. coli Outbreak

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Public Health England has advised consumers to thoroughly wash mixed salad leaves following an outbreak of E. coli that has so far infected over 150 people and left two dead.

Jonathan Thursby, a Personal Injury Solicitor with Simpson Millar, shines a light on the case and examines what you can do if you are struck down by a bout of food poisoning.

E. coli outbreak hits UK

E. coli is an extremely debilitating and potentially fatal infection, the symptoms of which include bloody diarrhoea and painful stomach cramps. Hospitalisation is common and although E. coli outbreaks on this scale are thankfully infrequent, the advice to thoroughly wash salad before consuming – along with any other vegetables or fruit that can be eaten raw – is sensible.

In this instance, a cause has yet to be determined, although the health watchdog PHE suspects an imported batch of rocket, commonly used in bags of mixed leaves, to be responsible.

Food poisoning due to negligence

Unfortunately, food poisoning cases in the UK are a regular occurrence and are sometimes a result of third party negligence.

A pub manager and her chef were jailed in 2015 after a Christmas dinner eaten at their establishment killed a mother-of-one and left a further 33 diners ill. In another recent case, a line of fish products was recalled from supermarket shelves due to the risk of them being infected with the toxin that causes botulism.

There have also been higher profile cases such as celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal having to temporarily shut two of his restaurants – one in 2009 and one in 2014 – due to norovirus contamination, along with a similar outbreak on a P&O cruise liner in 2012, which laid low 500 passengers.

Making a personal injury claim

Although the latest E. coli outbreak has yet to establish a source, in instances where a cause can be identified, you are within your rights to make a personal injury claim against the pub, restaurant, shop or whoever it was that provided the contaminated food.
Compensation varies dependent upon the severity of the symptoms but you can expect between £770 and £3,300 for lesser instances such as diarrhoea and stomach cramps. This can rise to £32,000+ in cases where permanent disability is a consequence. For people left with continuing conditions, such as IBS or incontinence, there can be associated psychiatric symptoms which they can claim for, along with any recommended treatment and incontinence aids or medication.

Loss of earnings can also be factored into the final settlement.

Jonathan Thursby says:

“If you think you’ve been poisoned as a result of contaminated food, you should first and foremost contact your GP or another health professional so that an assessment of your condition can be made.

“It is essential that you gather a stool sample as soon as possible, which can be used for testing in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. If you believe it may have been caused by a product that is still available to you, you should retain this as evidence and report it as soon as possible to both your local Environmental Health Department and to the establishment where you believe you either purchased or were exposed to the contaminated source.

“Although you might not feel like it at the time, you should try and list everything you have eaten over the previous 48 hours and also contact anybody you ate with to see if they have similar symptoms.

“All of this will help your case when the claim eventually comes to court.”

Written by Jonathan Thursby

For more information on personal injury and the services offered by Simpson Millar, please call

0808 129 3304

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