I want to make a complaint about a food product
No matter how good a manufacturer or supplier of food is there will be occasions when something goes wrong and the food sold is not acceptable to the customer. These will often be picked up by the manufacturer or supplier and an Allergy Alert or Food Hazard Warning will be made by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The council receives many complaints relating to food each year but not all pose a risk to public health, we will only deal with food complaints that do pose a risk. Other complaints which generally relate to misinformation or the quality of the product are investigated by East Sussex County Council Trading Standards.
Trading Standards deal with food complaints for:
- Improper use of additives
- Composition of food
- Adulteration of food
- Labelling offences and misleading claims
- Food which has gone past its "Best Before" or "Display Until" date in which case the quality of the food may have deteriorated
- Quality and nature of food e.g. cod sold as haddock
- Consumer information on allergens in food
The council will investigate:
- Unfit food, such as decomposing meat
- Food that is so contaminated that it could not be reasonably eaten, for example mouldy food
- Food which has gone past its "Use By" date in which case there is a risk of harmful bacterial growth
- Non-food items found within food like bits of metal or other objects which may cause injury
View our Common food complaints factsheet [.pdf] for the most suitable course of action with some of our most commonly received food complaints.
What should I do if I'm concerned about the food I purchased?
Firstly you should contact the manufacturer, supplier or shop where you bought the goods. A prompt complaint to the retailer or manufacturer will ensure that your complaint can be dealt with as quickly as possible and a recall instigated if necessary.
Instances where it is appropriate to contact the manufacturer rather than the retail shop where you bought the product are as follows:
- Although you are not satisfied with the product you are not unduly concerned and would like your money back.
- The complaint is not of a serious nature, for example a slug in lettuce.
- You are not sure where and when you purchased the product, or how and where you stored it.
You should also report your concerns to us so that we may investigate.
When making your complaint you should:
- Keep Receipts
- Note the exact name and address where the food was purchased
- Take digital images with your phone or camera
- Keep all the wrappers and containers
- Read the label for best before and use by dates. If you use food that is past its use by date or hasn't been stored in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions you can expect problems.
- Keep perishable food under temperature control - keep food in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer if the food is likely to deteriorate.
- Make your complaint as soon as possible
- Throw away the packaging or the food
- Pull out any foreign object in the food, leave it in place
- Leave perishable food in ambient (room) temperatures where it may deteriorate further
I would like to make a claim for compensation
Whilst the council will investigate complaints that affect public safety we will not get involved in any compensation claims. These are a civil matter that you must take up with the manufacturer or the courts if necessary.
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