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Allergic Reaction After Eating At A Cafe – Can I Claim Compensation? – Food Allergy What To Do & Guide?

I Had An Allergic Reaction After Eating At A Cafe, Could I Claim Compensation?

By Daniel Archer. Last Updated 14th April 2022. Many of us eat at cafés regularly without a second thought. However, if you have food allergies, whether it’s a coffee allergy, a dairy allergy, an egg allergy or another type of allergy, you may have to carefully check the café food allergy info before you order. You might do this to avoid having an allergic reaction after eating at a café. 

However, you are not the only person who may need to care when it comes to allergies. The cafe itself has a responsibility to provide you with accurate information about allergens. As well as this, café and restaurant staff should take care when giving allergen information and preparing food for those with allergies. If they do not, and you have an allergic reaction to food from a café because of this, you may be able to make a personal injury claim.

Allergic reaction after eating at a cafe claims guide

Allergic reaction after eating at a cafe claims guide

This guide provides those who have suffered a food allergy reaction in a café useful information on making a personal injury claim. We offer guidance on cafés’ responsibilities towards allergic customers, and details of situations that could lead to a café or restaurant allergy claim. 

We also offer insight into how to find a personal injury lawyer to help you with a claim and the level of compensation you could receive for your allergic reaction.

If you’d like to speak to us about starting a claim, or would like free advice on your specific situation, please do not hesitate to call Legal Expert on 0800 073 8804.

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A Guide To Claims For An Allergic Reaction After Eating At A Café

Making a claim for an allergic reaction after eating at a café could be something you’re considering if you believe the café is at fault for your reaction. Whether you’ve suffered an allergy to nuts in bread and sandwiches, have had a reaction because of a pastry or egg allergy, or someone you know has sadly suffered a sandwich allergy death, there are certain things you’d have to be able to prove in order to make a claim. These include:

  • Proving that a café had a responsibility (duty of care) towards your safety
  • Proving that a café breached its duty towards you
  • Proving that the café’s breach of their duty led to you suffering an allergic reaction
  • Proving that the incident happened within the relevant personal injury claims time limit for your claim

The below sections provide a wealth of information for those looking to make a claim for compensation for an allergic reaction to food from a café. We explain further about the types of allergy that you could suffer, from a caffeine allergy to a puff pastry nut allergy, and the symptoms you could suffer. 

We also provide some approximate figures as to how much compensation could be awarded for a claim of this type. We even give some insight into the laws that provide protection to consumers when it comes to eating at a café or restaurant. 

We do hope you find the information contained in this guide useful. If you’d like further information relating to your case and would like to take advantage of a free, no-obligation eligibility check to see if you could have a valid claim, please do get in touch with our team. We could also provide you with a personal injury solicitor who could help you launch a claim.

What Is An Allergic Reaction After Eating At A Cafe?

Allergic reactions could happen for a variety of reasons. Depending on the types of allergy you have, you may react in different ways and could experience a variety of symptoms. In general, allergic reactions are caused by the body mistaking something as a threat. The resulting immune system response produces a variety of symptoms. 

While some people experience mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergies, others experience either an IgE-mediated food allergy or a non-IgE-mediated food allergy. We explain more about these types of reaction below:

A Non-IgE-mediated food allergy produces symptoms that could take some time to present and, as a result, they could be difficult to diagnose. You may experience:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • A reddening, cracking or drying of the skin

An IgE-mediated food allergic reaction usually presents more quickly, from moments to minutes after consuming an allergen. This type of reaction involves the immune system producing a protein known as immunoglobulin E. Symptoms of an IgE-mediated food allergy could include:

  • Wheezing
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Swelling in the throat
  • Body, mouth or facial swelling
  • Nausea

Depending on the type of allergic reaction after eating at a café you’ve experienced, treatment might involve antihistamines or steroids, or you may just have to wait for your symptoms to subside. However, if you have a severe allergic reaction, you may require urgent medical treatment, as it could be life-threatening.

What Are Serious Or Anaphylactic Reactions?

One type of severe allergic reaction to food from a café you could experience is anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening medical condition that requires urgent treatment and may require hospitalisation. Anaphylaxis symptoms could include any of those from the IgE-mediated list above as well as:

  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Constriction of the throat
  • Collapsing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Mouth swelling
  • Hives

If you are known to have a particularly bad allergy, you may be issued with an autoinjector, or epi-pen, in order to get urgent treatment if you start to suffer symptoms.

What Are The Most Common Allergies To Foods?

While you could suffer allergies to many foods from a café, some of the most common include those where you are allergic to:

  • Tree nuts
  • Vegetables (particularly those in the nightshade family)
  • Sulphites/Sulphur dioxide
  • Soy or soybeans
  • Sesame
  • Peanuts
  • Mustard
  • Fruit
  • Wheat
  • Molluscs
  • Milk or dairy
  • Lupin
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Crustaceans
  • Shellfish
  • Cereals that contain gluten
  • Celery

You might not initially realise that you may have a pastry ingredients allergy or a coffee sensitivity. If you believe you could have a food allergy, it might be a good idea to find allergy services locally and go for allergy testing to confirm what ingredients you could have an allergy to.

The Top Cafe Chains And Food In The UK

If you’re wondering what cafés are popular in the UK, you might recognise some of the names of the UK’s top café chains below:

Top Cafe Foods And Drinks

The top foods and drinks from UK coffee shops and cafés include:

  • Espresso
  • Americano
  • Latte
  • Cappuccino
  • Soups
  • Sandwiches
  • Paninis
  • Flatbreads
  • Croissants
  • Pastries
  • Cakes
  • Biscuits

It is worth mentioning that when you order food and drinks at a café, you should take care to check the ingredients of what you’re ordering if you have allergies, to avoid an allergic reaction after eating at a café. For example, while those with fish allergies may avoid ordering a fish sandwich, allergy sufferers who react to tomatoes may not realise that they could have a tuna sandwich allergy if the sandwich contains tomato slices.

Rates Of People Suffering From Allergic Reactions To Foods And Drinks

If you thought you were amongst only a small number of people who suffer allergies in the country, you may be interested to read the following statistics, which are taken from the Allergy UK website:

  • Somewhere between 1 and 10% of adults and children suffer a hypersensitivity to certain types of food
  • Between 11 and 26 million Europeans suffer an allergy to one food or more
  • Toddlers are more likely to suffer a food allergy than adults (5-8% of toddlers are affected as opposed to 1-2% of adults)

Asking For An Allergy Free Menu, Drink Or Food

If you are opting to eat in a café, you should check the menu for allergens or ask your server what could be safe for you to eat. In some cases, if you would like a pastry, but suffer pastry allergy symptoms if nuts are included within a pastry, you might be able to request an allergy-free pastry, without the nuts added in. If a café could prepare you a dish without an allergen included in it, they should, according to the government, try to do so. However, they are not duty-bound to do so and can refuse any requests.

It is essential that if they cannot leave an ingredient out of your food, they should let you know so that you could order something else from the menu.

What Happens If You Are Not Served From An Allergy Free Menu?

If you are doing all that you can to avoid having an allergic reaction after eating at a café by requesting allergy-free foods, and the staff ignore your request to provide you with a dish without allergens, you may be able to make a claim against them. You may also be able to make a claim for an allergic reaction in a café if the menu showing allergens is incorrect or incomplete, or staff do not provide you with accurate allergy information upon your request.

Food Allergy And Intolerance Laws

There are certain civil and criminal laws that protect those with allergies from consuming food that could harm them. These include:

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 – This statute protects consumers from damage, loss or personal injury caused by defective or mis-sold products.

The Food Safety Act 1990 (Sections 14-15) – These protect people from the false presentation/description of foods, and foods that aren’t of the quality, nature or substance demanded.

EC Regulation 178/2002 (Articles 14 and 28) – These are meant to ensure the accuracy of the information you are provided about your food, as well as the safety of food that could potentially injure a person’s health.

As well as these laws, there are rules governing the information you should receive from a café or restaurant about allergens that are contained in their foods. They should provide you with allergen information in writing, on the menu, website or on other printed matter. You should also be able to request information on the allergens contained within these regulations from café staff.

Information Which Cafés Must Provide About Allergens

The allergens that cafés are legally obligated to provide you with information on are as follows:

  • Cereals with gluten
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Molluscs
  • Sesame
  • Peanuts
  • Celery
  • Sulphur dioxide/Sulphites
  • Tree nuts
  • Lupin
  • Soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mustard

How To Tell Restaurants That You Need Allergy Free Drink Or Food

We would always advise people looking to avoid having an allergic reaction after eating at a café to inform staff of their allergies before ordering. However, if you suffer an allergic reaction to food from a café because the information given to you about allergens was incorrect, you may be able to make a claim. 

This could be the case even if you have not informed café staff about your allergies. If the information contained on pre-packaged café products or menus for meals served to you does not provide you with information on the allergens listed above, this may mean the café has breached their responsibility towards you, and if you suffer harm because of this, you could make a claim.

Cafe Food And Drink Allergy Damages Calculator

Each case has to be assessed according to its own specific circumstances and facts, including medical evidence. 

However, we have given you some insight into the amount of compensation an allergic reaction to food from a café could bring by compiling a table with figures taken from the Judicial College Guidelines. This publication is one that could be used by courts and the lawyers to determine appropriate compensation settlements for personal injury claims. 

If your injury doesn’t appear below, you could get more information from our expert advisors by calling us.

Claimant’s injuryNotesJCG Bracket
Illness as a result of non-traumatic injuriesCramping, diarrhoea and pain. Varying levels, lasting for some weeks or days.£860 to £3,710
Illness as a result of non-traumatic injuriesSignificant levels of discomfort, with fatigue, problems with the bowel and some stomach cramping. The duration of symptoms could be weeks, however a full recovery could be achieved within around 1-2 years.£3,710 - £8,950
Illness as a result of non-traumatic injuriesThe claimant’s enjoyment of food could be affected for some years. Symptoms could be worse than those above.£8,950 - £18,020
Illness as a result of non-traumatic injuriesThe claimant’s ability to work or enjoy a normal social life could be affected. Hospital admission may be required, and symptoms could include acute pain, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting.£36,060 - £49,270

You can also head to our compensation calculator.

What Other Damages You Could Be Awarded

You might also be awarded special damages if you have incurred expenses as a result of your allergic reaction after eating at a café. These could include:

  • Medical bills – costs for prescription medicines, or for counselling, for example, could form part of your claim.
  • Travel expenses – costs incurred as a result of attending medical appointments or meeting your lawyer could also be claimed for.
  • Care costs – if your illness has been so severe that you have needed care at home, care costs could also form part of a special damages claim.
  • Income lossesLoss of earnings could relate to your food allergy reaction in a café if you need to take time off sick to recover. Income losses could form part of your claim too.

To be able to claim for special damages, you have to have proof of them. Keeping your bank statements, bills, receipts, and payslips could all help to prove your claim.

No Win No Fee Claims For An Allergic Reaction After Eating At A Café

Making a claim for a café or restaurant allergy reaction could be daunting. Not only would you have to prove that the café or restaurant had breached a duty of care it had towards you, but you would also have to prove that your allergic reaction was caused by this breach of duty. In addition to this, you would have to make sure you took action before the personal injury claims limit that applied to your case was up.

Getting legal support from a personal injury solicitor is something many claimants choose to do in order to make sure that they have every chance of getting the maximum compensation possible for their claim. Getting legal support doesn’t mean you’d have to pay a lawyer upfront either. With No Win No Fee claims, you’d be able to pay your lawyer at the end of your claim, once your compensation had been paid out. The process of claiming under these terms works as follows:

  • You would be sent a Conditional Fee Agreement to sign, detailing the success fee you’d pay your lawyer if they managed to negotiate compensation for you.
  • Upon signing the agreement, your solicitor would begin working on your claim
  • Once your case had been settled, a small success fee would be deducted from your payout (the success fee would be legally capped and only a small proportion of your settlement)
  • If your solicitor isn’t able to get you any compensation, you don’t pay them the success fee
  • You don’t have to pay your solicitors costs for pursuing your claim if they don’t get you any compensation either

If you’d like us to provide you with a Legal Expert No Win No Fee lawyer to help you with an allergic reaction café claim, we’d be glad to assist you. If you have any questions about making a claim under No Win No Fee terms, we’d be glad to give you further information over the phone.

Talk To An Expert

If you’ve had an allergic reaction after eating at a café and are wondering if you could make a personal injury claim, we could help. 

Not only could we provide a free, no-obligation case assessment to determine whether you could have a valid claim, but we could also provide you with a Legal Expert personal injury lawyer who could fight for compensation on your behalf on a No Win No Fee basis. 

To reach our team for a confidential, free consultation:

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you have an allergic reaction in a restaurant or café?

The effect on your health can vary depending on factors such as the severity of your allergy. However, regardless of how badly you are affected, you may still have a claim. But you have to establish that the staff in the café were negligent.

It is ultimately the person with the allergy’s responsibility to notify staff that they cannot have certain ingredients. If you do not notify those serving you, then they cannot take the necessary precautions to avoid you coming into contact with the allergen(s) that affect your health.

If you do notify the staff that you have allergies, and they do not effectively cater to your needs, then this could lead to you having an allergic reaction. If this is the case, you may be able to claim against the negligent party.

How much can I claim for an allergic reaction to coffee?

This can depend on how severe your reaction was. Additionally, whether or not you have a claim depends on whether or not the staff acted negligently. If you know that you have a coffee allergy but choose to order one anyway, the liability rests with nobody but yourself if you are then made ill as a result. This means you will be unable to make a claim.

However, it could be that you have a dairy allergy, for example. If this is the case, then some cafés may offer dairy-free alternatives to milk. If you order a dairy-free alternative but are given regular milk, then this could trigger your allergy. In this instance, it could be the staff who have acted negligently, leading to you being able to claim against the café.

The amount you receive following a successful claim may vary depending on the pain and suffering caused by the allergic reaction. Medical evidence can be used to assess the full extent of the harm you sustained to help calculate how much compensation you’re owed.

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