How to deal with an alleged food poisoning incident

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Correct procedure: operators need to ensure they follow the rules if customers complain of food poisoning (image credit: Credit: BananaStock)
Correct procedure: operators need to ensure they follow the rules if customers complain of food poisoning (image credit: Credit: BananaStock)
Operators need to have a specific procedure in place to deal with an incident where a customer claims they have suffered food poisoning at their venues, experts claimed.

Food poisoning can have a huge impact on businesses and one example of this is a carvery operator that provided food to a pub was ordered to pay thousands of pounds after 20 diners became ill.

IP Carvery, which makes the food on behalf of the Park Lane Tavern, in Cradley, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to placing unsafe food on the market in a case brought by Dudley Council at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court on 18 May 2017.

Staff training

A public apology was made to the court on behalf of IP Carvery's director. The court also heard the company had employed a food safety expert to advise them, inspect their facilities and train staff.

The food business was fined £1,350 and ordered to pay costs of £2,483.55 to Dudley Council and a victim surcharge of £120.

Food Safety Guru has issued some points about the procedure operators should take and all staff be aware of, should an alleged poisoning incident happen.

Advise issued

All complaints must be referred to the manager who must collect the following information from the customer:

  • Customer’s name and contact details
  • Symptoms shown and duration
  • What the person has eaten and when they ate it
  • If anyone they were dining with had the same symptoms and further details on this
  • What other food they consumed that day
  • If they have visited the doctors and if they did, did they give a sample for testing.

After this, operators need to let the customer know they will undertake an investigation and get back to them in a few days.

During this time, the manager needs to:

  • Verify (using information from the till) the customer bought the specific meal from the pub
  • Find out if anyone else has made a complaint
  • Collate food safety records and ensure everything is in order such as fridge temperatures, core cooking temperatures and cooling temperatures
  • Check the history of all components of the dish in question, including if it was all stored at the correct temperature, the food was in date, if it was cooked to the right temperature, if it was cooled within the correct time period and then reheated to the correct temperature.

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