Who can help with food complaints

If you have a complaint about any food you have bought, there may be two ways of sorting out the problem.

You can deal with the complaint yourself

When you buy food, you enter into a contract with the seller. If the food is unsatisfactory the seller may be in breach of contract and you are entitled in civil law to compensation. You should take up your complaint yourself with the seller. Free consumer advice is available from the Citizen Advice Consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133 and, if that is unsuccessful, see the Citizen Advice website: how to pursue a civil claim.

You can report your complaint to Environmental Health or Trading Standards

You may feel that your complaint is serious or worrying enough to require investigation by Environmental Health or a Trading Standards Officer. Environmental Health and Trading Standards are Enforcement Services, who will investigate breaches of the Food Safety Act 1990 and take enforcement action where appropriate.

To enable enforcement officers to prosecute a trader you may be required to make a formal witness statement and to give evidence in court. However, not all investigations will lead to prosecution.

If you are unsure about what to do, you can contact either Environmental Health or Trading Standards for advice.

Trading Standards

Trading Standards deal with misdescribed food or missing information, such as health claims, ingredients, weights, descriptions, allergens, food being sold past their use by date and counterfeit alcohol.

Trading Standards can be contacted through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 (9am to 5pm).

Environmental Health

Use the Food Standards Agency how to Report a food safety or hygiene issue to find your local district or borough council's Environmental Health department, for complaints about food hygiene and food safety issues such as food poisoning, contaminated food, foreign objects, mouldy food etc.

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