Food complaints

The Environmental Health Team investigate food complaints where the food has been manufactured, purchased or consumed from a premises within our area of responsibility. Officers will investigate complaints based on the risk to public health. We take enforcement action according to the Council's food and safety enforcement policy (PDF), operating procedures, statutory codes and guidance.

Complaints about food

The law required that any food

  • is what is described (the nature)
  • does not contain any other matter or foreign objects (the substance)
  • is fit for human consumption, with due regard to any further processing (quality)

Where the complaint is that the food is not of the nature demanded by the consumer, then the matter is handled by Trading Standards and the complaint should be made through Citizens Advice (external link).

Environmental Health Officers can deal with complaints that a food is not of the substance or the quality demanded.

Discovering a foreign object in food or other problems with food can be a very unpleasant experience. However, not all pose a serious health risk. Here are some common food complaints, together with a short explanation and suggestions for the best course of action.

The information provided in the document is intended as a self-help guide for residents and local businesses to help you to solve common issues that occur routinely in items of food.

If you are unable to resolve the problem after reading our self-help guide, please contact us at

Complaints about date coding

Use By Date - a use by date is a legal requirement. It indicates that the food will be unsafe to eat after that date. Once the date has passed, it must not be sold or offered for sale. Complaints can be made to

Best Before Date - a best before date is a quality guarantee. The manufacturer guarantees that the product will retain its normal characteristics of odour, taste and consistency. It is not an offence to sell food beyond a best before date although the fact should be brought to the purchaser's attention.

Frozen On or Expiration Date - these are for information only and carry no legal status.

Complaints about the condition of food premises

We will respond to complaints about food premises where they relate to food safety. For example:

  • poor levels of cleanliness
  • poor handling practices
  • pest problems within the premises

We require as much information about your concerns as possible. You must provide your name and contact details, the name and location of the business in question and the date and time you witnessed the problem. All information provided is strictly confidential and is necessary should formal action be considered.

If you have concerns about hygiene standards in a food premises, please contact

What should I do if I believe food made me unwell?

Please see our food poisoning information. Let us have all the details of what, when and where you ate the food that you believe led to illness. We will ask you to visit your GP for a stool specimen to support an investigation.