Who should I complain to?
Complaining to the Retailer or Manufacturer
You may want to complain directly to the retailer or
- you are not unduly concerned about it but you are not satisfied
with the product and want your money back.
- the complaint is not of a serious nature, e.g. a part of a pea
pod in a can of peas, or a flat carbonated drink.
Please note that once you have handed over the product to the
retailer or manufacturer, the Council will not be able to take
formal action against the company.
Complaining to Environmental Health
The Environmental Health team deals with food
complaints that pose a potential risk to public health.
- unfit food, e.g. decomposing meat, food that
may have caused food poisoning (Salmonella, etc).
- food that is so contaminated that it could
not reasonably be eaten, e.g. heavy mould growth.
- food which contains something which is not of
the substance' demanded, e.g. a bolt in a loaf of bread.
How will my complaint be investigated by the Council ?
The food product has to be surrendered to the
Council before an investigation can begin.
We will not give your details to the food
business under investigation but if we are to take action in the
courts you may need to appear as a witness and be questioned by the
defendant or their legal representative.
It may take several weeks to complete the
investigation. We may need to contact the Company's Head Office,
manufacturers or suppliers. In addition, we may also need to
contact colleagues in another authority where the food is
We will keep you updated on the progress of
the investigation and once completed, we will explain the
What will be the outcome?
In many cases the action taken will be
Formal action may be needed such as legal
notices, closure of the premises, a prosecution or a Simple
In some cases it may be necessary for the
manufacturer or retailer to recall a product on a national
The investigation has to be conducted as a
criminal investigation and sufficient evidence will be needed to
prove the offence beyond all reasonable doubt. If a company has
sold food which does not meet food safety requirements, it may
avoid formal action because it has a due
diligence defence. In other words, the
company took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence
to ensure the food was safe.
Even where the Council has sufficient evidence
of an offence, it may still decide not to pursue a prosecution if
it is not in the public interest.
The Council's enforcement policy guides our
What about compensation?
It is not the Council's role to obtain or
negotiate compensation on behalf of the complainant. Compensation
claims are a civil matter that you must take up with the
manufacturer and courts if necessary.
Contact us using the details opposite if you
wish to make a complaint.
Trading Standards also deal with food
complaints. The type of complaints they deal with are as
- chemical contamination of food and improper
use of additives
- composition of food, e.g. sausages must
contain a minimum percentage of meat
- adulteration of foods
- labelling offences and misleading claims
- quality and nature of food, e.g. Cod sold as
Tips for Making a Food Complaint
- keeps receipts and any packaging
- keep the food protected by putting it in an
- keep perishable food under temperature
control either in the fridge or freezer
- make sure you have read the label for
Best Before and Use By dates, and follow storage
instructions until you hand the product over.