High Court awards woman more than £15,000 over food poisoning caused by 'fireball' curry

05 November 2019 by

A woman has been awarded more than £15,000 by the High Court after a curry that hit her throat like a "fireball" left her suffering from the affects of food poisoning for more than a year.

In an initial appearance at the Central London County Court, the owners of Chaudhry's restaurant in Edmonton had been ordered to pay Zehour Chelfat £10,021 (£7,271 in compensation and £2,750 in costs). However Chelfat did not believe this was enough and pursued the case to the High Court where she was today awarded £15,398 (£10,958 compensation and £4,440 in costs).

The court heard that Chelfat had visited the restaurant on 2 September 2012, when a buffet of Indian, Chinese and barbecue food was on offer.

Judge Mr Justice Murray told the court: "During her visit to the restaurant, Ms Chelfat observed kitchen staff at the restaurant taking prepared Indian curries out of a cupboard, instead of a refrigerator, and then placing them into the oven for a few seconds, before pouring them straight into the chafing dishes for the buffet.

"The staff were wearing ‘casual and unhygienic' clothes. She saw a member of the restaurant staff mixing fresh fruit with contaminated or rotten fruit to make juice. She also saw a member of staff spitting in the sink and surrounding area where the fruit and the juice processor were located."

The judge said that Chelfat had taken two or three spoonfuls of curry from the buffet alongside some other food. He continued: "She described the curry as afflicting her throat like a ‘fireball'. She was also given an orange juice but found that it tasted ‘funny' and did not finish it."

The court heard that within hours Chelfat suffered severe abdominal pain and reflux of stomach acid. Her sleep was disrupted for the next three months by abdominal pain; and she suffered alternating diarrhoea and constipation for 12 months, along with nausea and loss of energy for up to 18 months.

Increasing the compensation and costs the judge said he was taking into account the initial severity of the food poisoning and the aggravation it caused to pre-existing mental health problems. He concluded that the judge at the County Court had used the wrong guidelines to assess the amount due.

Chelfat had launched her campaign against Chaudhry's Restaurant Ltd in 2017, at which point it responded that there was no truth in her claims and said the company was being wound up.

However, the judge said that it remains a registered company following moves by Chelfat to prevent it being struck off the Register of Companies.

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