Food complaints

Our investigation

We only investigate complaints about food quality. We do not investigate misselling or pricing complaints.

Our investigation depends on: 

  • how serious the details of the complaint are
  • our previous knowledge of similar complaints

We will not be able to get you a refund for your food.

Our investigation can range from visual identification of a foreign object to an in-depth analysis of the food.

Sometimes what initially seems to be something unhygienic like mouse droppings in white bread, turns out to be something quite safe such as a small amount of granary bread dough baked into the white loaf. Where this is the case, we will stop our investigation and tell you to return the food to the shop.

Witness statement

When we receive a complaint, we will get as much information as possible from you about

  • how and where you bought the food
  • how you found the issue

We may ask you for a witness statement. This is a formal account of what happened. We take your statement from you in line with the rules of evidence in case we need to present it in court.

Asking you for a witness statement does not mean we will prosecute. It helps us collect information while it is fresh in your mind.

Stages of investigation

Our investigation will then follow up to three stages:

Stage 1

We will examine the food you are complaining about to confirm what the issue is.

If there is no issue at this stage we will tell you and complete our investigation.

Stage 2

If we think the problem happened during the manufacturing process, we will contact the manufacturer so to find out if:

  • there are other similar complaints
  • there is a serious manufacturing problem

If the product is manufactured in the UK, we will also contact the local authority that enforces food hygiene at the premises so that we can have an independent opinion of their standards.

If the product is manufactured outside the UK, we will contact the relevant country's food safety enforcement service through the UK Single Liaison Body.

If there is no issue at this stage we will tell you and complete our investigation.

Stage 3

When we have completed stage 2, we will decide if we need the opinion of other experts.

If so, we will send the food to the Public Analyst or a specialist expert. 

Once we have completed all three stages we will decide what the next steps are and let you know.

Food Complaint Investigation Standards.

We carry out all food complaint investigations in line with:

  • Health Protection Section Food Complaints Procedure Work Instruction No. 14
  • LACOTS (Local Authority Co-ordinating body on Food and Trading Standards) Guidance on Food Complaints (2nd Edition November 1998)
  • LACOTS UK Single Liaison Body - Guidance for Dealing with Transborder Enquiries and Complaints - (March 1999)

Food and Safety

Address: Causeway House,
Bocking End,
Braintree,
Essex,
CM7 9HB

Telephone: 01376 557790