Food complaints

Next steps

Once we have completed our investigation, we will decide what action we will take. The potential actions we can take are:

  • close the complaint with no further action
  • informal action
  • due diligence
  • formal caution
  • formal action

Informal action

We deal with most complaints informally, because:

  • the evidence we have is not enough to satisfy a court of law that there is an offence
  • because the offender has a good due diligence defence

However, most manufacturers are concerned about both food safety and their public image. They will usually offer their apologies and often a small amount of gift vouchers as recompense.

Due diligence

A court will find someone not guilty if they can prove they took all reasonable steps to prevent the offence happening.

This means that we have to investigate what steps they taken to make sure the food was safe and if they could have done anything else.

We usually do this in co-operation with the local authority in the area where the company made the food.

If we find there is a strong due diligence defence, we won't take any further action.

Formal caution

We will issue a formal caution when we have enough evidence to be likely to win a prosecution and the company admits the offence.

There is no court case but the company gets a criminal record. If a company already has a formal caution for a similar offence, we will take formal action.

Formal action

Where our investigation officer is confident that the company has committed the offence and they have no due diligence defence, we will look to make a prosecution.

Consistency and Monitoring

Our officers complete a report for every food complaint we receive.

We prepare our reports in line with The Code For Crown Prosecutors.

Time Scales

These investigations can be complicated and sometimes take some months to carry out. 


We cannot

  • get compensation for you from the companies involved
  • pursue claims for personal injury

If you feel a claim is appropriate, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Food and Safety

Address: Causeway House,
Bocking End,

Telephone: 01376 557790