Food Complaints

You can find the food hygiene rating for local businesses on the Food Standards Agency website.

Where to complain

Complaining to the retailer or manufacturer

You may want to complain directly to the retailer or manufacturer if:

  • 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, for example, 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, for example:

  • unfit food - decomposing meat, food that may have caused food poisoning (Salmonella, etc)
  • food that is so contaminated that it could not reasonably be eaten, for example heavy mould growth
  • food which contains something which is not of the substances demanded, for example a bolt in a loaf of bread

Investigation 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.  We may also need to contact colleagues in another authority where the food is produced.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the investigation and once completed, we will explain the outcome.

The outcome

In many cases the action taken will be informal.

Formal action may be needed such as legal notices, closure of the premises, a prosecution or a Simple Caution.

In some cases it may be necessary for the manufacturer or retailer to recall a product on a national scale.

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 enforcement decisions.


The Council will not 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

The type of food complaints that Trading Standards deal with are

  • chemical contamination of food and improper use of additives
  • composition of food, such as sausages must contain a minimum percentage of meat
  • adulteration of foods
  • labelling offences and misleading claims
  • quality and nature of food, for example Cod sold as Haddock

Tips for making a food complaint

  • keeps receipts and any packaging
  • keep the food protected by putting it in an air-tight container
  • 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

Contact us

Commercial Services - Cheshire East Council

0300 123 5015

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