Food Complaints, Suspected Food Poisoning

The problem

The number of food poisoning cases has risen by 100% over the last ten years and arguably catering standards have generally improved. Perhaps ironically it is the top-rated restaurants and hotels, for all their top scores and dedication to the best standards, that appear to have the most allegations of food poisoning. Some hotels and restaurants have the policy to simply apologise and offer compensation. This can be an expensive policy and with social media’s far-reaching and enduring presence, can have a serious detrimental effect on reputation.

Steve works for several top hotels in London and investigates their food poisoning complaints in a thorough and scientific analysis of both the alleged sickness and operational standards in play at the Hotel.

A couple, celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary dining at a top Hotel, claimed they became ill after eating at the restaurant. They had also consumed a number of cocktails. The onset of the illness allegedly started in the hotel lift leaving the dining room. The complaint was handled by the Restaurant Director speaking to the couple and completing Steve’s detailed complaint form. Some allegations do not progress beyond this stage. 

The solution

Steve reviewed the foods eaten, descriptions of the symptoms, onset times and duration, other foods eaten over the previous three days, whether they had been swimming or have pets etc. Steve also reviewed the number of the same meals served and if there had been any other diners similarly affected. His review identified no other diners suffering, no staff illness, no deficient due diligence records or temperature control, no poor practices, all equipment operating correctly and no issues reported from Hotel suppliers. The type of symptoms and the onset times clearly did not reflect those of food poisoning. The diners refused to attend a Doctor’s surgery for a formal diagnosis and refused to submit stool samples to identify any food poisoning organisms.

The outcome 

Steve handled discussions with the diners and set out his detailed response as to why he did not consider there to be any blame associated with the Hotel. He reported his conclusion to the Hotel, who probably offered a “goodwill” gesture, maintaining the good reputation of the hotel.

Steve has not lost a food poisoning allegation to date. He also works closely with local authority officers when a formal complaint rises.