A night out at a restaurant can be an anxiety-inducing experience for diners with food allergies and although accommodating food allergies has come a long way in Australian restaurants, unfortunately accidents do still occur. Because of this, diners with allergies should know their rights in case something goes wrong.
Food allergy negligence: your rights at restaurants
Allergic diners have the right to dine safely when it comes to eating at restaurants – provided they have warned the restaurant of their allergy. Restaurant staff aren’t mind-readers, so generally they can’t be held responsible if a diner with an undisclosed allergy suffers a reaction.
How to warn a restaurant about a food allergy
Allergic diners should inform restaurant staff about their allergies, both for their own safety and for legal purposes. Even if you have been to the restaurant before it’s worth repeating the warning, as staff and chefs may change.
An allergy warning should address:
- Which ingredient/food the sufferer is allergic to.
- How serious, in terms of reaction, the allergy is.
Ideally parties with allergy suffers should call restaurants ahead to book and discuss the allergy. This will also prevent disappointment in case the restaurant can’t accommodate the allergy. If a meal out is unplanned, warn the wait staff when you arrive at the restaurant.
Restaurant staff should be able to let you know which dishes and drinks are safe to order. This can be done verbally or through allergy warnings on the menu. If you can’t remember which dishes to avoid when ordering, reconfirm with staff the items you are ordering are safe.
If your allergy is serious enough to require medical treatment, it’s your responsibility to take your medication such as an EpiPen with you when dining out.
What is the restaurant’s responsibility for food allergies?
A restaurant has a legal responsibility to ensure your safety, provided you’ve warned staff of your allergy. If you suffer an allergic reaction from the food you are served, you may be able to sue the restaurant for negligence. You may be able to claim compensation for any medical expenses or income lost owing to your reaction.
However the laws around negligence are complicated to navigate, so you’ll need to speak to a lawyer to determine whether to take legal action in your case.
What should I do if I suffer an allergic reaction in a restaurant?
If you or a loved one has suffered an allergic reaction at a restaurant that has caused persistent, ongoing symptoms, and you’d made staff aware of the allergy, Get in touch today. Our experts are well-experienced when it comes to public liability claims and will fight for you. We offer a No Win No Fee Guarantee*, meaning you’ll only pay for legal fees if your claim is successful.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: October 27, 2020.