Making a food safety 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, such as glass, plastic or metal, then this may be investigated as a food complaint.

We investigate food complaints as part of our role to protect public health.

We also investigate complaints about hygiene standards in food businesses such as poor hygiene practices or sightings of food pests.

You can make a complaint online:

Make a complaint about a food premises

What we will investigate

We will only investigate complaints where there is a risk to health:

  • Food that may have caused food poisoning
  • Food containing certain types of foreign bodies and mould
  • Complaints about hygiene standards in food businesses
  • Food that has been sold beyond its "use by" date

Although certain situations are unsightly, such as a hair in your food or insects found in vegetables, often there is no risk to health from these and you should contact the seller.

If you return the product to the place of purchase, you can discuss the matter with the owner/manager. We can only carry out a formal investigation if there is good evidence of a food safety offence.

We can't deal with:

  • claims for compensation or refunds, this is a matter between the complainant and the retailer or manufacturer
  • food that has already been returned to the seller or shop

For the following matters please contact Hampshire County Council Trading Standards:

  • Complaints about food quality, for example 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, for example added water or fat
  • Food that is beyond its 'best before' date

What will happen to your 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 suffered. If food poisoning is suspected, it must be confirmed by your GP (for more information on food poisoning please visit our food poisoning page)
  • whether you are prepared to support the investigation in taking legal action. This may involve providing a statement, and/or giving evidence in court

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

The whole investigation process should take no more than one month. However, investigations can be prolonged if a food analysis has to be carried out.

If your complaint relates to food/premises outside of the borough we will refer your complaint to the relevant local authority.

We will not disclose your details

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.

Contact details

Environmental Health team

If you have an enquiry about environmental health, send a message to the Environmental Health team

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