Food complaints

In addition to regular inspections of food premises, the Council also respond to complaints from the public, these complaints can be about

  • the food itself e.g. string found in bread, food which is mouldy, undercooked food.
  • poor hygiene conditions and practices in food premises

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.

Why do we investigate food complaints?

The purpose of investigating food complaints is to ensure they don't happen again and also where producers/manufacturers have failed in their duty to provide safe and wholesome food to fulfil an enforcement duty. It 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 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, but it is our decision what action to take.

How to complain about a food item

If you have bought an item of food that you believe is contaminated in some way, we will investigate your complaint.
Some examples of things that we investigate include:

  • Foods containing foreign bodies (e.g., stones, glass, insects, hair, plasters, cigarette ends etc.)
  • Food that is out of condition (e.g. mouldy, rotten, off-smelling etc)
  • Food that is out of date where it is suspected of making someone ill.

If you would like to make a complaint about a food item you have bought in South Cambridgeshire contact us here or on the telephone number 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 (e.g. one carton of yogurt from a pack of four) it is useful to have these as well.

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, e.g. a six pack or a four pack etc.
  • 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 etc. Details of handling the product at purchase up to when the problem was discovered and following the discovery.
  • Keep any evidence of purchase e.g. receipt

If this advice does not answer your food complaint storage requirements, please contact us directly.
Once a food complaint has been made, on 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 etc. 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.

Food Poisoning

If you suspect you are suffering from food poisoning, you must visit your G.P. He or she will arrange for a test to determine the actual nature of the problem. If the test is positive, Environmental Health will automatically be informed of the result, and an Environmental Health Officer will contact you to attempt to discover the likely source of the infection.

How to complain about a food premise

We will only investigate complaints about food premises which relate to food safety. We will not investigate complaints about the price of food, or poor customer service. Contact Cambridgeshire County Council Trading Services Department with this type of complaint.
Things that we will investigate include:

  • 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

If you would like to make a complaint about a food provider in South Cambridgeshire, contact the Environmental Health team.
Once a complaint has been made, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will contact you in 3 working days to discuss the matter.

All enquiries: 03450 450 063 (8am to 5.30pm, Mon - Fri) or email


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