Salmonella Food Poisoning and the Holiday Industry
Today, the board basis on many holidays sold to UK customers varies. They vary from the ‘small and friendly’ self-catering apartment with its snack bar to the large self-contained, all inclusive, Holiday Villages operated by First Choice. Each can have its own particular hygiene problem although the overriding factor surely is to ensure that the food sold to holidaymakers is fit to eat and of good quality.
Has There Been an Increase in the Number of Incidents of Salmonella?
Over the last few years there has been a marked general increase in reported food poisoning incidents, largely due to an increase in those travelling abroad. However, the source of the infection is often difficult to trace back to a specific hotel’s abroad allowing the holiday organiser to avoid responsibility.
Another reason tour operators avoid paying compensation may be that the sickness and diarrhoea experience by a family is often not reported. If food is contaminated tour operators will try every conceivable method possible to avoid compensating holidaymakers adequately.
Tour Operator Excuses
Simon Lomax, Simpson Millar’s Holiday Illness Claims manager says:
Over the years I have raised concerns about a number of methods tour operators and their hoteliers use either to avoid liability or to reduce compensation payments.
- Advising clients that their illness was due to change in food, a virus, over indulgence, change in temperature
- Freely prescribing antibiotics in resort to prevent holidaymakers and their GP’s from identifying the organism responsible for their sickness
- Employing legal staff to call under the pretence of a ‘welfare team’ to pay holidaymakers off (at a fraction of their claims true value) as soon as they return and when they are most vulnerable
- Paying parents ‘hush money’ for child sickness when regulation requires such settlements to be approval by a Judge (to protect the interests of minors)
Who is Responsible for Infective Gastroenteritis?
It is the tour operator’s responsibility to ensure that food is kept in a manner and under conditions which will not encourage the growth and spread of food poisoning organisms, such as Salmonella.
You stand a better chance of enjoying your holiday if your tour operator audits the hotel frequently on a monthly basis. Tour operators who rely on self-assessment or external companies who fail to carry out regularly independent auditing are risking mass outbreaks of illness and substantial compensation pay outs and legal costs.
How Can I Avoid Salmonella Poisoning
Salmonella reaches food directly or indirectly from animal excreta at a time of slaughter, from human excreta, or water polluted by sewage. In the kitchen there is a danger of cross contamination from raw to cooked food by hands, surfaces, utensils and other equipment.
Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to avoid contaminated food because it generally looks and tastes the same as hygienically prepared meals. Of course, you should avoid food that is not cooked properly, particularly chicken, but generally, proactively requesting details of the tour operators hygiene audits prior to travel is the only safeguard you can take.
If you are ill on holiday why not use technology to take advice on your rights to claim compensation. Most hotels offer a Wi-Fi facility which will enable you to contact us for free initial advice.