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Food hygiene complaints

Food businesses have a legal duty to only sell food that is fit to eat and is of a satisfactory standard of quality.

If it is not, you can contact us and we may be able to investigate it. We will take appropriate action to deal with cases where the law has been broken.

If the problem relates to product labelling, contact Hampshire Trading Standards.

Find out more about food safety. We also publish information on food safety for businesses.

On this page:

Make a food hygiene complaint

You can submit a food hygiene complaint to us using the online form below. Select 'Food Hygiene' from the dropdown menu at the top of the form. Before doing so, please read the details below of the complaints we can and cannot investigate.

Complaints we will investigate

We will carry out an urgent investigation within 24 hours for the following:

  • a case of food poisoning with laboratory confirmation
  • an allegation of pests infesting a food business (rats, mice and cockroaches only with physical sightings and/or other clear evidence such as mouse droppings)
  • a foreign body complaint, where the contaminant has caused or in our opinion is likely to cause actual physical injury (for example, glass or small pieces of metal in food). We will need to see the item and, if possible, all packaging and receipts
  • unfit food for sale

We will carry out an investigation within three working days for the following:

  • a food poisoning allegation where there is more than one victim identified, the victim is in a high-risk group (under five years old, elderly, sick or immuno-compromised), or the victim is an open food handler (as long as they are willing to see a GP and submit faecal specimens). If the allegation is of a suspected outbreak, we will determine whether to escalate the case for urgent investigation
  • a complaint concerning food sold past the use-by date (as long as food is identified)
  • allegations of poor hygiene in a food business where there is a definite risk to public health. For example, where the allegation is of cross contamination, dirty condition of the business, undercooked food or poor personal hygiene by staff
  • an allegation of food poisoning where we have received other similar complaints within the past month
  • a food hygiene complaint where practices are perceived to be poor (for example, food handlers wearing dirty clothing or not washing their hands)
  • complaints received from bodies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or DEFRA.

Complaints we will not investigate

There are some complaints that we will not investigate because:

  • there is no risk to public health or safety
  • there is no evidence
  • the manufacturer has done all that was reasonable to prevent the occurrence (known as a due diligence defence).

Examples of when we won't investigate include the following:

  • a food complaint where you no longer have the food in your possession
  • a food poisoning allegation where there is no laboratory confirmation, and where the affected person is not in a high-risk group (under five years old, elderly, sick or immuno-compromised)
  • an allegation of food poisoning connected to a food business, where we have not received other similar complaints within the past month
  • a complaint relating to food sold by responsible traders, unless it is a foreign body complaint that could cause actual physical injury (see above for additional information). For other low risk cases, you are recommended to return the goods to the retailer
  • a complaint that food past the 'best before' date has been sold or is on display for sale
  • a complaint about the quality of the product, description or issues of that nature. In such cases, direct your complaint to Hampshire Trading Standards.

If you are unsure, contact us and we will let you know if we can investigate your complaint.

Information and disclosure

We will ask for your name and contact details to allow us to follow up the complaint. We do not share your information with anyone else unless we are required to do so by law, or it is necessary to provide our services to you.  

Depending on the nature and circumstances of the complaint, it may be possible for the person you are reporting to guess that you notified us, particularly if you have already raised the matter with them.

Generally, unless part of an ongoing investigation, the information collected as part of the process is available, subject to a Freedom of Information enquiry.

Contact details

For further information about food hygiene complaints, contact us using the details below.


Phone: 023 8028 5411

Food and Safety Team
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

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