Food Complaints

There are 4 main types of food complaint

Foreign Objects

Foreign objects are things that have found their way into food that shouldn't be there. Examples of foreign objects include insects, wood, plastic, glass, bits of machinery.

Foods causing illness (it's not always the last thing you ate!)

We receive many complaints alleging that a certain food has caused illness. The food being blamed will almost always be the last thing the person ate before becoming ill. However, most food poisoning bacteria do not cause illness until 12 to 36 hours after they have entered the body. This means it will hardly ever be what you ate last that made you ill, but rather what you ate yesterday or the day before.


Most pre packed foods need to carry a date of minimum durability. Normally this is a Best Before date- the date when the food should remain in its best condition i.e.- it will not be stale.

Highly perishable foods should have a Use By date on the packaging giving the date by which the food may be used safely. Foods that have use by dates must be removed from sale once that date has passed.

Offences connected with Use By dates are dealt with by Trading Standards Departments. You can contact them on Tel 0845 4040506

Dirty Food Premises/ Poor Food Handling Practices

If you visit a food premises in the District and you are unhappy with the cleanliness, or how your food was handled, please contact the Commercial Team on 01353 665555.
Please note we do not deal with poor customer service.

Action that will be taken on receipt of your complaint

Food bought outside of the District

  • If the food was bought outside the District we will arrange for the transfer of the food to the Council, which should be dealing with it. We will let you know the details of the Council involved and where possible, the Officer who will be dealing with your complaint.

Food bought within the District

  • If the food was bought in the District we will decide on the best action to take.

How long will the investigation take?

Food complaint investigations can be complex and take several weeks, and in some cases, months to complete. You will be contacted during the investigation and advised accordingly.

Enforcement Options

At the end of the complaint investigation there are a range of enforcement options available, from no further action, to prosecuting the Company or person who is at fault.

The decision as to the most appropriate course of action depends upon several factors including

  • Nature of complaint
  • Public risk
  • Whether there have been other similar complaints
  • Willingness of individual/company to try and prevent it from happening again.

At the end of a food complaint investigation

On completion of the investigation we will

  • Write to you to advise on the outcome of the investigation
  • Forward your details (if you are in agreement) to the company. (This often results in you receiving a letter of explanation or apology and sometimes vouchers)
  • Please note that the council cannot get your money back or get involved with any claim for damages you may have suffered.