LONDON — Not long after a major E. coli O157:H7 outbreak surfaced in the U.S. back in the early 1990’s, fans of rare hamburgers were unable to buy them at foodservice establishments due to operator fears of E. coli contamination and potential legal liabilities. This reporter more than once heard patrons in California telling servers they’d gladly sign a waiver freeing them from liability if they could only get a rare burger.
USA Today recently wrote that selling foods carrying consumption risks don’t need to be a liability risk. The owner of High Timber in east London, Neleen Strauss, is now requesting that her diners sign away their right to sue before consuming her restaurant's Christmas pudding — a traditional treat that sometimes contains coins or charms.
Based on tradition, silver coins are hidden in a Christmas pudding mix. As a result, some portions may contain them. Although finding one in your pudding is supposed to usher in good fortune, Ms. Strauss was advised by lawyer patrons it could also result in chipped teeth, which could then be followed by a lawsuit.
The idea of patrons signing a waiver in order to buy and consume a potentially risky menu item is not a new request. For example, several restaurants in the U.K. have been asking patrons to sign releases before ordering and eating rare meat. And one pub requires anyone ordering its spicy chicken wings to sign a waiver before eating them, according to NACS Online.