Restaurant Customer Suffers Serious Burns from Scalding Food

    Restaurant Expert WitnessThis case involves a middle-aged man in Iowa who suffered third degree burns when a curry that he was served at a restaurant spilled on him. At the time of the incident in question, the man was seated in a booth along with his family. The curry was served in a large, round bowl with a small circular base, and was spilled when one of his children reached across the table. As a result of the spill, the contents of the bowl went directly onto the man’s lap, causing serious burns that required an extended hospital stay as well as multiple plastic surgeries. As a result of his injuries, the man suffered from permanent disfigurement. It was alleged that the food was far too hot to have been brought to the table, and that staff should have warned the customer that the food was extremely hot when it was served.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Are you familiar with any standards regarding food temperature that are adhered to in the restaurant industry?
    • 2. Are there different measures to adhere to when serving hot food?
    • 3. Should the waiter have informed the patrons about the temperature of the curry?

    Expert Witness Response E-035273

    I have previously served as an expert in a similar situation involving food temperature protocol, although this was in a takeout scenario in which the standards are a bit different; however, I am very familiar with sit-in standards as well. The man in that case also suffered 3rd degree burns and had to have a skin graft. As an expert, I made a site visit, inspected the kitchen and policies, wrote a report, made recommendations, and received a positive result. I believe I am well qualified for this case because I specialize in teaching food safety for restaurants in a major metropolitan area, and I am a certified head chef. Even though there is no law that states that the temperature of the food served here was too hot, a prudent restaurant operator would never serve food this hot without natural precautions, including a verbal warning to diners at the table, which is absolutely necessary.

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