New Delhi, July 2016: If you fall victim to food poisoning, you could get compensation amounting to several lakhs of rupees under the Food Safety Act. But that’s easier said than done. Though it’s comforting to think that the law is on your side, in practical terms, it’s almost impossible to get justice.

Under the rules, you need to produce a part of whatever you ate that made you ill. You also have to get samples of your stool or vomit tested, and a doctor’s certificate saying you have had food poisoning. First of all, it’s unlikely that anyone routinely keeps aside part of what they order at restaurants or eateries, just in case they get food poisoning. Then, the sample has to be tested within 24 hours, otherwise the food business operator could explain away any contamination found by saying it wasn’t preserved in the proper manner by the customer. In real life, though food poisoning does often occur within hours of ingesting contaminated food, it could also take two or three days to manifest. So even if you did preserve a bit of the pizza or a spoonful of the chutney, you may not know if it’s needed within 24 hours.

Even if all these conditions are met, you’ll be in for a prolonged court battle before you can see any money.

No case for compensation has been filed under the Act since it came into force. Officials say it is meant to protect consumers against mass outbreaks of disease. But even so, the evidence will be mostly circumstantial, they admit.


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