Most people have a problem-free time abroad, but some holidays don’t go to plan. Unfortunately, food poisoning remains a fairly common theme of trips abroad and not only blights the holiday, but in some instances it can lead to more serious health complications and even fatalities.

While many people on holiday take precautions against the risk of food poisoning, others you can’t control such as hotel staff or a tour provider can mean food poisoning is unavoidable. If this happens to you, then you may be entitled to compensation.

Martyn Gwyther, head of overseas accident claims at Thompsons Solicitors, outlines some basic guidelines on how those on holiday can try to avoid getting food poisoning and what they need to do to make a compensation claim should they fall victim.

Plan ahead
Researching the country’s culinary delights before you embark on your travels will ensure that you are aware of what food and drink could pose a threat to your health, and what might be best to stay away from. Foods that come high on a typical list to avoid include uncooked fruits and vegetables (especially if you haven’t washed them in clean water), unpasteurised dairy products, including milk, cheese and ice cream, and particularly food from street vendors.

Exercising, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep in the run up to your holiday can help to give your immune system a boost, meaning if you happen to eat contaminated food, your body is in a condition to get rid of bacteria quicker.

Avoid drinking tap water
Not all countries have the sterile and filtered tap water that we have in the UK, so drinking bottled water (with a cap that you break the seal on) will help minimise the risk of suffering from illnesses commonly caused by unsterile water, such as diarrhoea. You should also avoid ice unless you are certain that it has been made with treated water.

Make sure food is properly cooked
Whether you’re opting for a self-catering holiday package or dining out at a local restaurant, it’s important to make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked and is served steaming hot so that you avoid ingesting viruses and bacteria such as salmonella. This is something our client, Paul Brown, became all too familiar with after falling ill from the bug during his honeymoon in Antigua.

Symptoms of food poisoning usually appear within one or two days of eating contaminated food and can include vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, high temperature and aching muscles. If symptoms do not improve after a few days, then you should seek medical help.