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Have you contracted food poisoning while on holiday?

Hotels, resorts, cruise ships and restaurants have a duty of care to look after your health and safety. This includes taking necessary steps to make sure their guests don't suffer from food poisoning on holiday

If you suffered food poisoning while on holiday, you could claim compensation for what happened. This is especially true if you had food poisoning on a package holiday, a cruise or at an all-inclusive resort. Claims may also be possible if you are certain that eating at a particular restaurant caused your food poisoning.  

You worked hard for your holiday and deserve compensation if you couldn't enjoy it due to someone's negligence, or if you suffered when you got home. Compensation for food poisoning while abroad or on holiday in the UK could put things right and we can help. Call us on  to find out whether you have a case for compensation.

A holiday food poisoning compensation claim could help get you back on track after a ruined holiday or ongoing suffering. 

If you had food poisoning on holiday, compensation could cover some of the cost of a ruined holiday, treatment costs and loss of earnings. It could also make up for suffering experienced after the holiday.

Claiming on a no win no fee basis brings you no financial risk. There are no upfront charges and all of the costs are 100% covered for you during the case. You'll pay nothing at all if you lose. And if you win, your contribution to these costs will simply be deducted from your compensation.

Call us for free on  or start a claim online. You can also claim on behalf of someone else, for example if a medical or mental health condition means they can't claim themselves.

If we think you're eligible, we'll match you with specialist solicitors experienced in food poisoning on holiday claims to support you through the process.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is usually caused by eating or drinking something contaminated with germs. The bacteria that most often cause food poisoning are campylobacter, salmonella and E. coli, along with the norovirus ‘vomiting bug'.

You are most likely to contract food poisoning when food hasn't been stored, prepared or cooked properly, or was handled by someone who didn't wash their hands. Certain foods are especially high-risk for food poisoning:

  • Meat and poultry
  • Seafood and shellfish
  • Uncooked or lightly cooked eggs 
  • Milk/dairy products
  • Prepared fruit, vegetables and salad
  • Cooked rice and pasta

Eating and drinking aren't the only ways to get food poisoning. It can also be transmitted through person-to-person contact with someone who is infected. 

Those most at risk are older people, babies, anyone who is pregnant and people who are ill or have a low resistance to infection. But food poisoning can happen to anyone, and it often creates significant discomfort and distress - as we see when supporting our customers' holiday food poisoning compensation claims.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

It's easy to underestimate just how bad the symptoms of food poisoning can be. Symptoms are often very unpleasant, and can seriously affect your holiday or your life when you get home:

The symptoms of food poisoning usually start within a few days of eating the food that caused it. Sometimes however, they can start almost immediately or up to a few weeks later.

Most symptoms will usually clear up after a day or two and can be treated with over-the-counter medicines from your local chemist. But in some cases, symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration can be bad enough to require hospital treatment and time off work. Food poisoning compensation payouts are often made to people who are affected to this extent.

In the most severe cases, food poisoning can lead to longer-term conditions. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), haemolytic-uraemic syndrome (HUS) and chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Food poisoning can even lead to death. Food Safety News report that an estimated 180 people on average die each year in the UK from foodborne illness. 

If you've suffered from food poisoning while abroad or on a UK holiday, or are representing a loved one who did, please call us on or request a call back. We're here to help with holiday food poisoning compensation claims, offering advice and matching you with a specialist solicitor who can make a no win no fee claim for you.

What are the common types of food poisoning abroad?

The main types of food poisoning are salmonella and E. coli, although there are other strains of virus that can cause food poisoning.


Salmonella is a type of bacteria often found in raw or undercooked meat, eggs, seafood, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. It causes salmonella infection (salmonellosis) that affects the intestinal tract.

If you contract salmonella on holiday it can have serious effects. The Independent and Mirror newspaper both report symptoms lasting well beyond contracting salmonella on holidays. A study in the Gastroenterology Journal also found that 1 in 10 people with salmonella developed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).   


E.coli is the shortened name for Escherichia coli, which is a bacterial infection that normally lives in the intestines. It's a form of gastroenteritis that can cause abdominal pain, stomach upset, bloody diarrhoea and fever. You can contract E. coli on holiday from undercooked meat, and from leafy vegetables and fruit washed in contaminated water.

One concern about contracting E. coli on holiday is that it can cause haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). This is a rare but serious condition that can lead to kidney failure and even death.


Campylobacter tends to be less severe than E.coli and salmonella, and most people recover quite soon. It can cause serious problems for some people however, with children under five and older people most at risk.

Raw chicken is one of the main causes of campylobacter. When people handle or wash raw chicken, cross-contamination with other food can happen. It is also be found in other meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water.


You may hear norovirus called the ‘winter vomiting bug', and vomiting is a typical symptom, along with diarrhoea, aching arms and legs, and a fever.  It is contracted person-to-person and by eating food prepared by someone with norovirus.

Although it can be very unpleasant, it usually clears up after a couple of days. It can be serious for babies and children however. The NHS provides information and advice on what to do if you see  possible signs of norovirus such as ongoing sickness, diarrhoea, loss of appetite or dehydration.

Dysentery / shigella

Dysentery is also known as shigella or shigellosis. It's an infection that can cause very severe diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. Serious cases can be fatal if they go untreated.

It's usually mild when contracted in the UK, where it's typically passed from person-to-person. But it's often more serious when caught in countries where contaminated water is sometimes used to wash food.   


Cryptosporidium parasites cause cryptosporidiosis, a type of food poisoning that mostly affects young children but can affect anyone. It causes diarrhoea and is linked to drinking or swimming in infected water. It is also contracted from food, such as fruit and vegetables washed in contaminated water.


Listeria bacteria cause listeriosis, a rare infection usually caught by eating infected food such as unpasteurised milk and dairy products. You can also contract it from food prepared by someone with listeriosis if they didn't wash their hands.

Symptoms include a high temperature, feeling or being sick, general aches and pains, and diarrhoea. It's rarely a concern for most people, but people who are pregnant or have a weak immune system should call 111 if they think they might have it. 

What are the causes of food poisoning on holiday?

Every hotel, cruise ship and resort must operate under strict health and safety standards. These include the cleanliness of the kitchens, dining rooms and restaurants. 

If food storage, preparation, cooking and serving areas aren't kept clean, there is a greater chance of food poisoning. Another factor can be poor practices such as:

  • Leaving food out in buffet areas longer than is safe 
  • Storing or preparing raw and cooked meat in the same place
  • Serving undercooked food
  • Serving food at an unsuitable temperature

Hotel, cruise ship, resort and restaurant management should also take water quality seriously, as contaminated water is a common cause of food poisoning outbreaks. Washing fruit and vegetables in unsafe water is a particular problem.

If anyone fails in their duty of care to you, you have every right to claim compensation. We can help - call us for a no-obligation chat on or request a call back and find out whether you have a case for compensation.

There are several steps for how to avoid food poisoning on holiday. TripAdvisor list 12 good tips, which include washing your hands before eating, drinking and cleaning your teeth with bottled water instead of from a tap, and avoiding seafood, salad, and raw fruit and vegetables.

But the real responsibility for your safety lies with anyone providing food to the public. Hotels, resorts, restaurants and cruise ship operators know that they should follow procedures to keep you safe including: 

  • Kitchen and serving staff following good personal hygiene practices, starting with regularly washing their hands
  • Storing, preparing and cooking food in a safe way
  • Reporting any incident of food poisoning and informing customers of the risk
  • Asking anyone affected to isolate as much as possible to avoid infecting others
  • Undergoing a deep clean to minimise the risk of further problems

Any establishment serving food should know how to avoid food poisoning on holiday for their guests. But they aren't the only people who should be concerned about food poisoning. On package holidays, tour operators also have a responsibility for their customers' wellbeing.

Do you think negligence in food safety or hygiene caused your food poisoning? If you do, contact us for free on or request a call back. We'll listen to what happened and if we think you're eligible to claim, we'll match you with solicitors specialising in claims for holiday food poisoning to support you through the process.


If you reported your food poisoning to a tour operator, cruise operator, resort or hotel, they may have already offered you compensation. It may be tempting to accept the offer, but you may do better by talking to us first.


These types of offers are often much lower than the amount you could achieve through a compensation claim. You may choose to accept the offer, but you have nothing to lose from letting us connect you with a solicitor who specialises in claims for holiday food poisoning.

Faye Wright

Paralegal, National Accident Law

If you contracted food poisoning abroad - or on a UK holiday - please call us on so we can assess whether you may have a case for compensation. 

Claims for package/all-inclusive holidays and cruises tend to be more successful. With these holidays it's easier to establish the source of your food poisoning. But claims against individual hotels and restaurants may also be possible.

It can be difficult to know what to do if you get food poisoning abroad, but there are steps you can take while still away that could help with your compensation claim. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can advise you on how to claim for food poisoning on holiday and arrange for support from a suitable solicitor. 

You should of course also treat the symptoms of food poisoning as soon as you spot them. The NHS has advice for what to do when adults, babies or children have diarrhoea and vomiting, two of the main symptoms of food poisoning.

Can I claim compensation for food poisoning on holiday?

If you suffered food poisoning and it was someone else's fault, then you may be able to make a claim for holiday food poisoning compensation.

Your compensation claim could go more smoothly if you stayed at an all-inclusive hotel or resort, or on a cruise ship, and didn't eat anywhere else. Claims in other circumstances are also possible.

Compensation for food poisoning on package holidays

With package holidays, liability for what happened rests with the tour operator you booked with. They have a responsibility to make sure that the hotels they use are safe for their customers. Your solicitors would therefore seek compensation from the tour operator if you suffered food positioning on a package holiday.

A package holiday is one that combines at least two services such as your travel, accommodation or car rental at a single inclusive price. The regulations that state that your travel company or tour operator is responsible when things go wrong are the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 and the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements (Amendment) (EU Exit) 2018.

Compensation for food poisoning on cruise holidays

Outbreaks of food poisoning abroad are quite common on cruise ships. This is partly because passengers and crew have close contact with each other. Food poisoning can therefore easily spread person-to-person. 

Operators have a responsibility to protect their passengers from harm by complying with food safety rules. They should also take steps to contain an outbreak as soon as they know about it.

Compensation for food poisoning from individual hotels or restaurants

If you get food poisoning because a restaurant, hotel, café or shop has failed in its duty of care, you have a right to claim compensation. There is however a need to establish where you contracted food poisoning in order to make a successful claim. For example, if doctors confirm that eating chicken caused it, you might be able to link this to the only place where you ate chicken on holiday. 

Did you know?

You can claim for food poisoning on holiday even if you make a full recovery. If the food poisoning ruined some of your holiday or meant you couldn't work or enjoy life for a while when you got home, you could still claim compensation for your costs, as well as your suffering. 

Call us on or request a call back to find out more about your rights and eligibility to compensation.

Are the rules different in different countries?

There are differences in food hygiene rules around the world. There are also differences in terms of how to make a claim for holiday food poisoning compensation. When you start a claim with us, we will connect you with specialist food poisoning solicitors who know about the different rules in each country.

In many cases however, claims for food poisoning abroad are made in the UK. If you booked a package holiday through a UK tour operator, your solicitor would make the claim with them rather than the  hotel or resort you stayed at. 

What happens when I make a holiday food poisoning compensation claim?

When you call us on , we'll ask some questions and make an initial assessment of whether you are able to claim compensation. If we think you are eligible, and if you'd like to proceed, we'll connect you with a solicitor with experience of food poisoning abroad claims.

It can help your claim if you can provide some evidence of what happened:

  • Write down as much as you can remember about where you ate and what you ate at each meal. 
  • If you have receipts or records on your bank account, that may also be helpful. 
  • If possible, provide details of whether other guests also fell ill.
  • A claim for holiday food poisoning is usually helped by a diagnosis from a doctor. Visit your GP and explain what happened so that there is a record of your illness - and of course to see what medical help you might need. 

Please don't worry if you can't do all the above. Get in touch with us and we'll support you to take your claim enquiry forward.

Will I need to go to court?

It's unlikely that you'll need to go to court, as most claims made with us settle without a court hearing. Even if a court date is set, your claim might still be settled before the date comes up. But if your case does go to court, the lawyers looking after your claim will negotiate on your behalf at the hearing. 

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How much compensation could I get?

The level of compensation when claiming for food poisoning on holiday might be determined by one or both of these categories: 

  • Special damages are the financial losses you experience as a direct result of your food poisoning. This can include some of the cost of your holiday, if your enjoyment of it was affected. Any past and future loss of wages and the cost of medical treatment and prescriptions would also be included as special damages.
  • General damages cover pain, suffering and ‘loss of amenity', which means the impact on your ability to do things you used to do, such as everyday tasks and hobbies.

The Judicial College is the government department in the Ministry of Justice that sets general damages guidelines for personal injury types. These include guide amounts for food poisoning compensation payouts:

Injury  severityCompensation amounts
Serious cases involving acute pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever with hospital admission, significant impact on ability to work and enjoyment of life£36,060 to £49,270
Serious but short-lived (2-4 weeks) food poisoning, diarrhoea, and vomiting with some remaining discomfort and disturbance of bowel function, with long-term consequences£8,950 to £18,020
Significant discomfort, stomach cramps, bowel function changes and fatigue, with hospital admission for a number of days and symptoms lasting for a few weeks to two years£3,710 to £8,950
Pain, cramps and diarrhoea lasting for a few days or weeks

£860 to £3,710

To find out whether you can claim compensation for your food poisoning, contact us for free on or fill in our call back form to arrange a call back at a time that suits you. We're here to help you understand whether you could make a claim and to answer any questions.

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Can I make a no win no fee food poisoning abroad claim?

Yes, and at National Accident Helpline we specialise in no win no fee claims. There are no upfront charges and you only pay legal fees if you win your case. It's a guarantee that you'll never pay anything if you lose.

All the costs of your case during the duration of your claim are 100% covered. These costs can run into thousands, including medical report fees, court fees and barristers' fees, so it's reassuring to know that you won't be out of pocket. It gives you peace of mind that you won't face any costs, so you can focus on your recovery.

With a no win no fee claim, your solicitor will pay for all the upfront costs and expenses of the claim. If you win your case, you will pay a contribution to these costs. This is deducted from your compensation, so you won't have to use your savings or income. This contribution will be capped at a level agreed before you start your claim, so there are no nasty surprises. 

If you don't win compensation, you have nothing at all to pay. That's because an insurance policy known as ‘After the Event' (ATE) insurance is usually taken out for you to cover costs. This ensures that you won't pay anything if your case loses - not even the ATE policy fees.

The main thing to remember is that if your case loses, you pay nothing. There's no financial risk stopping you from claiming for the compensation you deserve.

What is "No win no fee"?

Watch our video to have 'no win no fee' solicitors explained and find out how we work at National Accident Helpline before starting your claim for compensation today.

Watch our video to have 'no win no fee' solicitors explained and find out how we work at National Accident Helpline before starting your claim for compensation today.

How long do I have to make a claim?

To qualify for making a compensation claim you must normally have suffered effects of the food poisoning within the last three years, if you were 18 or over when it happened.

The three-year limit may be extended in some circumstances:

  • If you were under 18 at the time and no claim was made, you have three years from your 18th until your 21st birthday to claim.
  • There is no time limit if the person can't make a claim themselves due to severe side-effects or a lack of psychological capability.

The three-year time limit applies to compensation claims brought through the UK system, such as claims relating to food poisoning on package holidays. 

The time limit for cruise holiday food poisoning claims is two years from the time you leave the ship. If the claim is made in an overseas legal system, the time limits may vary from country to country.

If you have any questions about the time limits for making a claim, please contact us for free and impartial advice on .

Frequently asked questions...

There's no need to visit a solicitor's office in person. If you decide you’d like to go ahead, we pass you onto one of our specialist solicitors for a free initial consultation. We usually transfer you to them on the same call and they’ll typically handle your case without you needing to visit them.

Legal aid was a method of covering the cost of going to court and getting a fair hearing. In 2000, legal aid was made unavailable for personal injury cases, and instead no win no fee or conditional fee agreements were introduced.

All of our solicitors can help you to make your claim on a no win no fee basis, which means that if your case isn’t successful you won’t pay a penny.

If your case is successful, you’ll pay a fee to your solicitor as a percentage of the amount you receive, and this percentage will have been agreed before starting your claim.

Find out more about legal aid and no win no fee here.

There are no upfront costs or unexpected fees when you start your claim with us. Our advice is free and your solicitor will work on a no win no fee basis, meaning that you won’t pay a penny for your claim unless it is successful.

If your claim is successfully settled, you’ll pay some legal costs to your solicitor from your compensation. These will be agreed between you and your solicitor before you start your claim, so there will be no surprises.

Read more about no win no fee.

How long will my claim take?

Every claim we handle is different. Cases where fault is clear and straightforward may settle sooner than claims with more complicated circumstances requiring more time for investigating what happened. 

If a complex claim does take longer, it may be possible to make your holiday food poisoning payouts in stages. This could help you with ongoing costs such as making up for loss of earnings if you are unable to work.

How do I start my claim with National Accident Helpline?

Have you suffered from food poisoning contracted on holiday? You could be entitled to compensation - call our team of legally-trained advisors on  or start a claim online

If we assess that you may have a case for a claim, and if you decide to take things further, we'll put you in touch with one of our specialist solicitors. They have experience of food poisoning claims and will be there to support you through each step of the process.

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