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Environment and animals

Food safety complaints and enquiries

If you have a complaint about food or a food business we may be able to investigate or you may need to deal with it yourself. If you are unsure please contact us for advice or see our food complaints guide.

You should be aware that we cannot investigate all food complaints and that dealing with them yourself is often the best way to resolve an issue.

For us to investigate a complaint you must have all related 'evidence' including receipts and packaging, also the food itself where applicable. If you have lost or discarded these we will be limited in the action we are able to take.

Food safety we investigate

If there is a public health risk we investigate complaints about:

  • dirty food premises - food businesses should be clean and hygienic
  • unsafe food - food served by a food business should be safe to eat and free from foreign bodies
  • poor hygiene practices - staff working in food businesses should be trained to handle food in a safe way and ensure they do not cause contamination
  • food quality - food should be of a suitable, satisfactory quality and must not be harmful
  • food descriptions, labelling and packaging must not mislead customers in a way which may cause harm such as incorrect allergen information
  • food past its use by date - food labelled with a 'use by' date must not be sold by a retailer or used by a caterer after this date, as this is an offence. Also after this date the food may no longer be safe to eat

Food safety we cannot help with

We will not investigate:

  • where there is no public health risk
  • where a complaint is made anonymously
  • where there is insufficient evidence to support an offence
  • where you no longer have the item you are complaining about
  • where the business has already been asked to investigate
  • where there is undue delay between the problem happening and you telling us about it
  • where you are seeking a refund, a replacement or other compensation
  • where your complaint is about customer service

It is not an offence to sell food after its 'best before' date and food may be sold or used as long as it is still of good quality. Retailers are not required to reduce the price of food past its best before date or label it to tell you this. You must check the best before date yourself.

Dealing with a complaint yourself

When dealing with a complaint yourself we recommend you follow these steps:

  1. Go back to the trader and explain your problem - Take along any evidence you have, such as copies of receipts and packaging (keep the originals yourself). If possible, take a photograph of any food or foreign bodies and then store the original items in the freezer to prevent deterioration.
  2. Put your complaint in writing to the business - Keep a copy of the letter and send by recorded delivery. In your letter explain the complaint and the action you would like the trader to take to solve the problem.
  3. Contact us - if you are not satisfied with the outcome.

Also see

Food and Safety Unit

Eco Depot, Hazel Court, York, YO10 3DS

Telephone: 01904 551525