If you suffer from a soy or soybean allergy then you will probably be familiar with how unpleasant and possibly dangerous the symptoms of an allergic reaction can be. Trusting others to serve and label food properly when you are eating in a restaurant is so important. If you start to suffer from soy allergy symptoms while you are eating, or shortly afterwards, then it could mean that there has been negligence on the part of the restaurant. If that has happened, then you could make a personal injury claim against the business to make up for the harm you suffered as a result of their negligence and irresponsible behaviour.
Legal Helpline can help you to make that claim by offering you free legal advice and the support of one of the personal injury solicitors from our panel. We have put this guide together to tell you more about this and also to enable you to make an informed decision on whether or not to make a personal injury claim. This guide will go over some of the important details of how personal injury claims work while also having useful information and links to resources about what a soy allergy is and how soy allergies are treated. If at any time you have any questions or would like to proceed with a claim, please call us on the number at the top of this page.
Jump To A Section
- A Guide To Soybean Allergic Reaction Claims
- What Is A Soy Allergy?
- What Food Could Contain Soy Products?
- Symptoms Of A Soy Allergy
- Rare And Anaphylactic Reactions To Soybeans
- Causes Of Allergic Reactions To Soybeans
- Allergen Guidance And Food Labelling Regulations
- Soy Allergic Reaction Claims Against A Restaurant
- What Evidence Could Help My Soy Allergy Claim?
- Soybean Allergic Reaction Compensation Calculator
- Special Damages Compensating For Financial Losses
- How Do I Make A Claim For An Allergic Reaction To Soy?
- No Win, No Fee Claims For An Allergic Reaction To Soy Products
- Speak To Legal Helpline
- Supporting Information on Allergic Reaction to Soybean Claims
According to AllergyUK, up to 20% of the UK’s population has some form of allergy, and out of them just under half have more than one allergy. In the space of twenty years between 1992 and 2012, the number of people being admitted to hospital for anaphylactic shock (one of the most serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms of an allergic reaction) increased by 615%. With that in mind, it is important and widely known that restaurants serving food and drink should take safety measures to prevent people with allergies from accidentally consuming food they are allergic to. Soy allergies are just one of an array of different allergies that people can suffer from.
In this guide, we will go over some information about soy product allergies and what responsibilities restaurants have to keep their customers safe. We’ll also talk about how a restaurant could become liable for failing to meet these responsibilities. This guide will also give you information about what you can do about a claim and what sort of evidence you might want to try and gather to support your case. We will explain how compensation works and how it is calculated before exploring some of the benefits of making a personal injury claim through Legal Helpline.
For information about other types of accidents that could occur in restaurants or shops, please follow the links provided. For information on claiming compensation for a peanut-allergic reaction, click here,
Soy, the product of soybeans, is one of numerous food products that can cause some people to suffer allergic reactions. Soy allergies usually emerge in infancy, sometimes in reaction to baby food products containing soy. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to soy can range from a rash and itching to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Certain products should be avoided for obvious reasons, such as soya beans, soy milk and tofu (which is made from the curd of soya beans). But soy is widely used as an ingredient in several different food products, such as:
- Baked goods like bread or biscuits
- Tinned goods like soup or tuna
- Ice cream
- Protein foods like protein bars and protein shakes
- Peanut butter
- Processed meat
- Cooking oil
- Worcestershire sauce
Chinese food and other Asian cuisines often contain soy even in dishes in which soy is not a primary ingredient. If you have a soy allergy you should be especially cautious with Chinese food. People with soy allergies (and other allergies) should always be careful to check the labels of products they are buying to see if it contains soy, or to check with serving staff in restaurants to see if there are traces of soy.
Most allergic reactions to soy cause discomfort but do not pose a major health risk. However, in rare cases, an allergic reaction to soy can prove fatal. Soy allergy symptoms will usually begin to manifest within a few minutes or a few hours of consuming the product. These symptoms can include the following:
- Itchy skin or eczema
- Swelling in the face or the lips
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Redness of the skin
- A tingling sensation in the mouth
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
Some people with soy allergies can suffer more severe reactions, such as anaphylactic shock. The signs of this include:
- The throat swelling up, causing difficulty breathing
- Going into shock
- Increasing heart rate
- Dizziness or fainting
- Redness of the skin all over the body
- Drooling and difficulty swallowing
These types of reactions are more common among people who suffer from other allergies (such as nuts) in addition to soy. If you begin to suffer any of these symptoms you should immediately seek medical assistance. If you have been diagnosed with having an allergy to soy then you may well have been given an epi-pen, which you should have with you at all times.
An allergy is when your body’s immune system sees certain substances (in this case soy) as a threat and triggers your body’s immune response. This response includes releasing antibodies to attack the proteins triggering the reactions as well as releasing histamines. Histamines are what triggers responses like running noses, sore eyes, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Some people are allergic to soy (and other allergens) in a different way. They suffer from what’s known as Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). This differs from ordinary allergic reactions in that the reaction takes place a few hours after the product was consumed rather than occurring within minutes. FPIES reactions usually involve vomiting and diarrhoea rather than the other symptoms of an allergic reaction. FPIES, unlike other forms of allergies, is temporary rather than permanent meaning that over time people who have it may find themselves able to consume soy products without reacting.
There are certain risk factors when it comes to suffering from a soy allergy. These include:
- Family members with an allergy – If you have family members who suffer from allergies to soy and other allergens then you are at an increased risk of having it also.
- Age – Allergic reactions to soy are more common among young children.
- Other allergies – It is not uncommon for people to have multiple allergies. If you already have other allergies such as lactose (dairy products) or gluten (wheat and grain products) then you are at an increased risk of having a soy allergy.
Given allergens pose a health risk, and because they might end up in foods that do not contain them as a primary ingredient, all food and drink that contains allergens (soy, lactose, nuts etc.) must be labelled appropriately, with clear indication on the packaging or menus of restaurants or cafes Food that is sold pre-packaged must have all of its ingredients listed on a label on the packaging.
In addition to having allergens pointed out on the menu, restaurants and cafes should have notices up that are visible and legible warning customers that some dishes may include allergens and inviting any customers with concerns to speak to a member of staff. Restaurants and cafes can print out and use generic allergen warning signs like this one provided by the government.
If the food is sold by distance selling (i.e. with takeaway deliveries) then there should be notifications on the businesses website (if it has one) containing allergen warnings, or staff should warn customers over the phone. When the food is delivered it should come with a notification. This can be a sticker or an enclosed copy of the restaurant’s menu.
There are also food safety standards outlining what restaurants and cafés should and should not do when preparing food products that might potentially contain allergens. These measures mainly centre around preventing cross-contamination by, among other things:
- Using different utensils for food containing allergens and food not containing allergens
- Using different surfaces for food containing allergens and not containing allergens.
- Making sure staff wash their hands between handling allergenic food and non-allergenic food.
If a restaurant, a café or a shop has followed the regulations on preparing and labelling food containing allergens then you should be at little risk of suffering an allergic reaction to soy. If you do suffer from soy allergy symptoms while eating at a restaurant or shortly afterwards, then it could be a sign that the restaurant or café has failed to follow food safety regulations. If that is the case, then you could be entitled to claim compensation from the business for the harm you suffered.
Some of the ways that a restaurant or café could fail to uphold food safety standards and become liable for a compensation claim can include:
- Failing to identify soy allergen hazards on their menu.
- Failing to prevent cross-contamination, thus causing the customer to suffer from an allergic reaction to soy despite purchasing an option that did not include soy.
- Failing to have a notice up in their restaurant warning customers of the presence of allergen hazards.
- Allowing food to be served to a customer with soy in it despite the customer specifically informing staff of their allergy.
- Falsely telling a customer that a certain meal did not contain soy when, in fact, it did.
If you have fallen ill with soy allergy symptoms after eating at a restaurant and you believe that they are at fault, then call our team to discuss whether or not you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim against that restaurant.
Making a personal injury claim requires evidence of course, as compensation can’t be awarded if there is no proof that you were harmed or that the restaurant did anything wrong. Some forms of evidence that you could begin to collect for yourself right now before starting a case could include:
- Some form of proof that you dined in the restaurant in the time and place you claim to have done, such as a receipt for your meal.
- CCTV footage can be requested from a business and they are legally obligated to provide it within a calendar month, though certain conditions apply. Some businesses may charge you, and the footage may have been deleted if more than 30 days have passed.
- A copy of the restaurant’s menu, so that you can prove that the food containing soy was mislabeled.
- A log of the incident in the restaurant’s accident book. All places of work and business have to have an accident book in which to record all reported incidents or accidents. Report the incident to the restaurant manager to ensure that the incident is recorded.
- Medical evidence, it is vital that there is medical confirmation that you suffered an allergic reaction to soy in the restaurant’s food. If the reaction was particularly severe and necessitated immediate medical treatment then this record will already be extant. If not, you should seek out a doctor’s appointment as soon as you can to receive an examination.
Compensation always has to be tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of the individual who has been hurt. That means there needs to be an assessment of just how much harm has been caused so that a financial figure can be given for it. One part of this is assessing how much medical harm has been done to the victim by the accident and ascribing a financial figure to it according to the compensation calculation guidelines set out by the Judicial College. The table below shows how these guidelines value certain categories of injury and illness. That is not to say, however, that the numbers in this chart reflect how much money you would be entitled to receive, as there are other matters, such as special damages, to be included as well.
Injury Notes Compensation
Asthma (a) Severe and permanent disabling asthma, £40,410 to £61,710
Asthma (b) Chronic asthma requiring the use of an inhaler and restricting employment prospects £24,680 to £40,370
Asthma (c) Bronchitis and wheezing with an impact on working and social life with a recovery likely within a few years of exposure £18,020 to £24,680
Asthma (d) Relatively mild asthma like symptoms following exposure £9,990 to £18,020
Asthma (e) Colds, bronchitis and/or other chest problems that resolve in a few months. Up to £4,830
Food poisoning (a) Several days or weeks of hospitalisation with lasting effects including: pain, diarrhea, IBS, hemorrhoids and and impact on sex life. £36,060 to £49,270
Food poisoning (b) Two to four weeks of hospitalisation with lasting symptoms like those listed above. £8,950 to £18,020
Food poisoning (c) Hospitalization of a few days with lasting symptoms less severe than those listed above and dissapearing within a year. £3,710 to £8,950
Sometimes the effects of an accident or a severe allergic reaction can go beyond just the illness itself. Very severe health problems and injuries can force people to lose out on wages from being unable to work or force them to spend money on treatment. Compensation could be claimed to help you recover from your injury without having to worry about your financial situation. Expenses and losses which you could claim back might include:
- Expenses related to medical treatment.
- Expenses related to travel necessitated by the health problem and/or its treatment.
- Expenses related to care necessitated by your illness.
- Income lost by being either temporarily or permanently unable to work.
Make sure that if you spend any money on treatment or other expenses that you keep and store the receipts and paperwork. That way you can prove how much money you have spent on your treatment. If there are any costs that you are unsure you could claim back in compensation, simply call our claims team and ask them.
You could technically make a claim on your own by gathering evidence and representing yourself, but with all of the costs and disbursements involved in making a claim, we don’t think that would be wise. Instead, we recommend that you get in touch with us to discuss what happened to you with our accident team and, if you have grounds for a claim, you could be put in touch with a specialist personal injury solicitor from our panel. Your solicitor will have the legal knowledge to take responsibility for building a strong case, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
If you were to make a personal injury claim with a solicitor who charged legal fees upfront then you could run the risk of worsening your financial situation significantly if the claim was unsuccessful. That’s why we feel it’s so important that all of our panel of solicitors offer to work on a No Win, No Fee basis. A No Win, No Fee agreement, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), is designed to offer claimants financial protection and the confidence to pursue justice. If you sign a CFA with a solicitor from our panel, you will not have to pay any fees upfront, nor will you have to pay any fees during your claim either. And if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any of the fees your solicitor has incurred in pursuing your case.
If your claim is successful, your solicitor may seek a small contribution towards their costs. This is known as a ‘success fee’ and would be deducted from the compensation awarded at the end of the claim. Don’t worry, the success fee is legally capped and will be agreed with you at the outset of the claim.
You can talk to our team for advice and for information about starting a claim with some of the solicitors on our panel on 0161 696 9685. Or you can fill in this online form to request a phone call from our team.
Guide by JY
Edited by REG