For the public

How to make a food complaint

If you have bought an item of food from a business in Hyndburn, which you are not happy with, you can report this to the Food and Safety Team. If your complaint relates to a food business outside of Hyndburn, then you need to contact the Local Authority where the item was purchased.

What we will investigate

  • Unfit or grossly contaminated food.
  • Foods containing foreign bodies e.g. metal, glass.
  • Foods which may have caused food poisoning, see our food poisoning page for more information.
  • Foods which have passed their ‘use by date’.

If your complaint relates to hygiene standards in a food premises then you need to review the hygiene complaints page.

Common food complaints

  • Food contaminated with a foreign body e.g. hair, plastic, glass, insect.
  • Undercooked food.
  • Deteriorated food e.g. mouldy.
  • Food that had an unpleasant taste.
  • Food that was out of date.

Use by and best before dates

The use by date is applied by the manufacturer to indicate that consuming the food after this date could be unsafe. It is an offence to sell food past its use by date.

Have you spoken to the owner or manager of the food business?

They may not be aware of the problem, so you may be able to resolve it by discussing the complaint with them directly. If after pursuing the matter yourself, you are still not satisfied with the response you should return to the Food and Safety Team with details of your progress. At this stage we may not be able to take any action other than to write to the company concerned noting their failure to satisfy you. We would hope that this would stimulate them into responding to your complaint and also enable us to record their failure and take this into account in any further dealings we might have with them.

Remember the following when dealing with food complaints:

  • Handling your food complaint
  • Return the food to the shop, together with the packaging and receipt and ask to speak to the person in charge. In some cases you may need to write or telephone the manufacturer. Explain the nature of your complaint and ask them to investigate it. Ask them to write to you with their explanations of how the problem arose. They may offer you a refund and/or carry out their own internal investigation.
  • Speak to the food business owner
  • It is commonly thought that selling food past its best before date is an offence, unless the food has made you unwell, this is not the case. Manufacturers apply a best before date to inform consumers that eating food past this date is likely to affect its quality but it will not make you unwell. If food is past its best before date we suggest that you inform the food business owner first.
  • Not all of these pose a risk to public health or safety, so an officer will assess each complaint to determine the most appropriate course of action.
  • Avoid handling foreign objects – if they are embedded in the food do not displace them.
  • Keep the food in its original container where possible.
  • Keep any wrappings and labels etc.
  • If the food is perishable keep it in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Keep any till receipts.

The Food and Safety Team is unable to negotiate compensation for complaints on your behalf. Investigations undertaken by this authority only cover the criminal aspect of the each case and not civil liabilities.

There are three ways in which food complaints can be dealt with:

  1. For non pre-packed fresh foods return the food, container etc. to the shop from which it was purchased and ask to see the person in charge. For pre-packed foods write to or telephone the manufacturer. The address will be on the package. Explain the nature of your complaint and ask them to investigate it. Ask them to write to you with their explanations of how the problem arose, or
  2. You may wish to take private legal action against the retailer/manufacturer. You should discuss this matter with a solicitor, or
  3. Ask the Food and Safety Team to investigate. An officer will assess the complaint in relation to the seriousness, severity and whether this is a widespread or isolated incident. As a minimum, the officer will make contact with the originating premises and where appropriate the Local Authority in whose area the complaint originates from. This could involve contacting the manufacturer, retailer or supplier by telephone or letter. If the product has been produced locally then it may involve contacting the local producer and could involve a visit to the premises.