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Food Complaints

You can contact us if you have a complaint about food you have bought, or a food business you have visited

What is a food complaint?

If you buy food from a shop or have a meal at a restaurant or café and find it contains something that should not be there, for example a hair or piece of plastic - this can be investigated as a food complaint. We also investigate complaints about hygiene standards in food businesses.

Making a Complaint - Who can I contact?

If you have a complaint about any food or drink you have bought, or the state of a food business you can complain to us, or directly to the seller. To contact us you can complete a Service Request Form although we would suggest you read the rest of the information on this page first.

If you return the product to the place of purchase, you can discuss the matter with the proprietor. It is very difficult for us to deal with the complaint if you have returned the product. We can only carry out a formal investigation if there is reasonable evidence of a food safety offence. However, we will investigate any complaint informally where there may be a risk to public health.

We can deal with:

  • food that may have caused food poisoning or been contaminated
  • food containing foreign bodies, eg insects, metal, glass
  • mouldy food
  • complaints about hygiene standards in food businesses
  • food that has expired its 'use by' date

We can't deal with:

  • claims for compensation or refunds. This is a matter between the complainant and the retailer or manufacturer
  • complaints about food quality, eg sour milk, over-ripe fruit and vegetables
  • false descriptions and/or inappropriate labelling of food and drink
  • food and drink that has been tampered with eg added water or fat
  • food that is beyond its 'best before' date

What if my complaint relates to food/premises outside of the borough?

We will arrange for the complaint to be transferred to the relevant enforcing authority.

What will happen to my complaint?

The investigating officer will need to know:

  • where and when the food was bought (preferably supported by a receipt)
  • how the problem was discovered, and by whom
  • what ill effects the consumer has suffers. If food poisoning is suspected, it must be confirmed by your GP (see webpage on Food Poisoning)
  • whether you are prepared to support us in taking legal action. This may involve providing a statement, and/or giving evidence in court.
  • the whole investigation process should take no more than one month
  • investigations can be prolonged if a food analysis has to be carried out

Once the investigating officer has collected the relevant information, the most appropriate action will be determined by national and local guidance on food safety.

Will my name and address be disclosed?

Some companies request the complainant's details, but these will not be disclosed without your consent. Please note that we cannot conceal the complainant's identity if legal proceedings are taken.

If your complaint is to do with the quality of the product, description or issues of that nature please direct your complaint to Hampshire Trading Standards.

We regret that we can not investigate anonymous complaints. Nor can we secure compensation, that is a civil matter. We will, however, fully investigate all complaints to make sure that no offence has been committed and to try to stop the incident from happening again.

For more information, contact us: Environmental Health

Updated: 6 Feb 2017
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