'B’ is for Barbecue…. and Botulism

The sun is out. So is that Hawaiian shirt you picked up in last year’s Autumn sale. You’ve filled the paddling pool with cold water, the fridge with Spanish lager and the freezer with ice cream. What can possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, sunshine and the holidays don’t always go smoothly. You don’t want to worry when you should be enjoying the summer, so QualitySolicitors have prepared a series of humorous but helpful scenarios, just in case.

John Baden-Daintree, Head of Legal Services for QualitySolicitors said:

“At this time of year, the last thing most of us want to be worrying about is the law – but summer and holidays do throw up some interesting legal conundrums. We’ve put together a series of light-hearted scenarios illustrating potential summer legal problems.  It’s part of our effort to demystify law. We hope our stories will cause a smile or two as well as make the law a little clearer.”

Sun, sausages and Salmonella

Barbecues are a staple of British summer, but what happens if your cooking nightmares come true and your painstaking efforts give all of your guests food poisoning?  

Barbecues come in all shapes and sizes. From the traditional charcoal numbers or gas-fired ones with countless burners that cost more than the cooker in your kitchen (why?!), it is impossible to think of a warm evening without the smell of charcoal and burning sausages. So, on the three weekends in the summer that you can brush the dust off yours, you want to rush around, invite all of your friends and show off your prowess at incinerating that carefully-prepared meal in record time. You lay on a spread with enough meat to feed a den of hungry lions.

But then, as the night is closing in and the conversation is turning to ‘really should have brought a jumper’, and ‘it’s not the same as aboard, the nights are just sooo much warmer in the Caribbean, darling’, you note that one of your guests has apparently had too much to drink and is violently vomiting all over your prize dahlias.

Annoyance and jibes about people not being able to handle their drink dry up as another guest rushes off to the toilet gripping their stomach and you realise that the guest being ill is actually the nominated driver and not drunk at all.

The evening has turned into a scene from a horror movie with guests one by one turning from a sunburnt prawn pink to deathly white. Slowly it dawns on you…. Could it be your cooking?!

A couple of days later, one of the guests telephones to say that they have been diagnosed with Salmonella poisoning, and you know that you have been permanently excluded from their Christmas card list.

So, is it really your cooking skills that are to blame? And even worse, could anyone launch a claim against your offensive food? Well, the guides tell you that Salmonella is easily prevented by the ‘Four C’s’; Cleanliness, Chilling, Cooking and preventing Cross-contamination. You realise that you must discover what caused the problem. If your cooking was to blame (who knew that you couldn’t eat chicken wings medium-rare?!), you may need to urgently inspect your household insurance policy. But, if the problem can be traced to the dodgy side street butchers that you bought it from, then there may be a claim against the suppliers, rather than you.

Remember that anyone who suspects that they have Salmonella or any other type of food poisoning from eating takeaway or restaurant food should report this to their local Environmental Health Office. The reason for this is to allow an investigation by environmental health officers. They may take action if there is a problem with the restaurant’s food hygiene practices.

If a doctor suspects that you have food poisoning, or if Salmonella infection is confirmed, then they are also required by law to report this.

Oh, the British summer is such fun!

QualitySolicitors are a national network of law firms with over 100 offices across the UK.  During this (hopefully) long hot summer, a series of scenarios will be posted on QualitySolicitors.com, illustrating the Law of Summer, including:

  • Your neighbours party outside in their back garden until 3am, again. What should you do? 
  • What does your contract with the deck chair attendant entitle you to if the chair collapses underneath you?
  • How delayed does your holiday flight have to be before you are entitled to any compensation?
  • The garden party is ruined when a gardening firm accidentally kills your lawn. What can you do?
  • How much does flesh does your bikini have to cover for it not to be considered an affront to public decency?
  • It’s an August heatwave and while many of your colleagues are on holiday, you’re stuck in a sweltering office.  How hot is too hot?
  • Suit and tie, or crop top and skimpy shorts. Can the boss enforce a dress code?

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