Food complaints

In addition to regular inspections of food premises, we also respond to food complaints from the public.

These complaints can be about:

  • The food itself, for example: string found in bread, food which is mouldy, undercooked food
  • Poor hygiene conditions and practices in food premises
  • People smoking in kitchens, store rooms or preparation rooms
  • Pets or animals in kitchens, store rooms or preparation rooms
  • Sightings of vermin or pests on food premises
  • Poor levels of cleanliness in kitchens, store rooms or preparation rooms
  • Poor food handling practices
  • Food that is out of condition (for example: mouldy, rotten, off-smelling)
  • Food that is out of date where it is suspected of making someone ill

Some complaints come from people who become ill after eating out and believe that they may have contracted food poisoning.

With such complaints we have to establish if a problem exists, and if it does, we take action to stop it happening again.

Our role is not to seek compensation and we cannot be involved in any financial aspect of the complaint.

If you suspect you are suffering from food poisoning, you must visit your GP.

Your GP will arrange for a test to determine the actual nature of the problem. If the test is positive for a food poisoning bacteria, our Food & Safety Team will automatically be informed of the result.  An Environmental Health Officer will contact you to attempt to discover the likely source of the infection.

For further details regarding about food poisoning, please see our Food Poisoning page.

We will only investigate complaints about food premises which relate to food safety and are located in South Cambridgeshire. 

Common complaints about a food premises include: 

  • Poor hygiene standards within the kitchen
  • Foreign bodies in food
  • Poor personal hygiene of food handling staff
  • Pests

If you would like to make a complaint about a food provider in South Cambridgeshire, contact our Food & Safety Team using the details below.

We will not investigate complaints about the price of food or poor customer service.

If you have concerns about these types of issues, please contact Cambridgeshire County Council's Trading Standards Team.

If you would like to make a complaint about a food item you have purchased in South Cambridgeshire, contact us using the details below.

Please save the food in its original container and keep the receipt for the food if you have one. If the item of food is one of a number of units (for example, one carton of yogurt from a pack of four) it is useful to have all of the units as well.

Once a food complaint has been made, an officer will either contact you to arrange to collect the food or, if you are able to, bring it in to the Council.
We will ask you a number of questions relating to:

  • Where and when you bought the food
  • When you found the complaint in question
  • Effects of eating the food
  • How the food was stored

We will ask you whether you are willing to give evidence in Court, this may be in person, or more likely via a Witness Statement. This is essential if we are going to take formal action.

Advice on handling food complaints

  • Reseal food and put it in a safe place - refrigerator or freezer as necessary
  • Do not tamper with the food and leave all foreign bodies in the food for the EHO to examine
  • Keep all packaging and other packs that are of the same type for the EHO to examine
  • Avoid eating remaining products in the pack, for example: a six pack or a four pack
  • Make some notes that could be used in the form of a statement to include where and when you purchased the product, at what time, details of handling of the product at purchase up to when the problem was discovered and following the discovery
  • Keep your purchase receipt.

The purpose of investigating food complaints is to ensure they don't happen again. Where producers/ manufacturers have failed in their duty to provide safe and wholesome food, is to fulfil an enforcement duty.

Our investigation does not seek compensation or redress from the producer/ supplier. Food complaints will not be returned following any investigation. Once you pass a food complaint to us, we will consider the complaint in the context of normal food production/ sale and decide what course of action to take. There are various options that we will discuss with you when the officer calls to collect the food or complete the food complaint form. However it is our decision what action to take.

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