Insurance to review 'rotten' food claim after 21 days

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Phumelele Ntshebe will know after 21 days if AIG will compensate him for food poisoning./Supplied
Phumelele Ntshebe will know after 21 days if AIG will compensate him for food poisoning./Supplied

A Tshwane resident will only know after 21 days if AIG insurance company will compensate him for falling sick after allegedly eating chicken he bought at Spar in February.

Phumelele Ntshebe, 43, said AIG repudiated his claim unreasonably as the requirement to produce his stool did not form part of the claim form it made him complete.

AIG will now have a second look at the claim after Consumer Line stepped in.

Ntshebe, a senior legal adjudication officer at Medical Schemes, said he purchased food items from Savemor Spar in Kirkeny, Pretoria.

"Among the items that I bought were trays of chicken and after I consumed the stuff I fell ill," Ntshebe said.

Before alleged vomiting coupled with diarrhoea, he says he also had a fever, stomach cramps followed by a terrible headache and shivering which, he says, prompted him to go to see a doctor.

"Fortunately, my kids were not around and my wife does not eat meat hence I was the only person affected.

"I went to my doctor and was diagnosed for food poisoning and/or gastroenteritis for which I was later treated."

He said he went for a pathological test, got treatment and underwent several more tests.

"It later transpired that the chicken in question was not fit for human consumption."

Ntshebe kept the food items he bought should they ask him to produce them, but the forms he completed did not require him to supply proof, he said.

"I am still in possession of the items by the way."

He subsequently advised the store of his experience and informed them that, as a result of this incident, he was seeking damages, he said.

He said they told him that they will submit the claim to their insurance company.

Ntshebe provided all the relevant documents, including the invoice, medical certificate, pathology results, and claim forms.

"Now, you [Consumer Line] and I know that this incident constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act [CPA] 68 of 2008," he said.

Under the act, consumers are able to sue the supplier and manufacturer of goods, including food, for damages or injuries they suffered as a result of consuming the goods.

Ntshebe said AIG repudiated his claim on the grounds that there was no link between his illness and the consumption of the chicken thighs he bought.

The letter which Consumer Line has seen states that Ntshebe failed to produce pathological test (stools test) confirming the diagnosis of food poisoning.

Among other reasons for rejection of his claim he was told that he failed to provide any medical report in respect of food poisoning that he alleged he had suffered.

"You failed to furnish any proof in respect of the purchase of the chicken thighs you alleged you bought from our insured's store [by the way of of a till slip or package of the chicken thighs] . therefore it cannot in any way be verified," the letter read.

All the documents were submitted to Spar, he said the supermarket must have withheld this vital information to his disadvantage.

Consumer Line provided AIG with the documents last Wednesday. AIG said it needed 21 more days to review Ntshebe's complaint.

"Together with our business partner we are working towards finding a solution to the issue. We can assure that the complaint will receive proper consideration and will be handled fairly, consistently and promptly," read AIG's e-mail.

Magauta Mphahlele, the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman, said under the common law, a supplier can be held civilly liable in court for damages arising from food poisoning.

Mphahlele said the CPA made it easier for a consumer to claim against a supplier for damages arising from food poisoning.

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