Our Food Safety Team investigates complaints relating to standards in food premises in Somerset and food that is unfit, contaminated or contains foreign bodies such as plastic and glass.
If you or your family purchase food which you believe to be unfit for human consumption, damaged, or contaminated in some way, then you have several options available:
- If you purchased the food from a retailer, you may return it for a replacement or refund. Most complaints about packaged food arise from contamination by foreign bodies and are isolated incidents. Major retailers have good systems in place which feedback complaints about food products to their head office, enabling any generalised problem to be identified.
- The food product can be returned directly to the manufacturer who may offer an explanation regarding the problem, and some form of compensation for being supplied with a substandard product.
- The purchaser can ask our Food Safety Team to investigate the problem. If we consider that the complaint item may have wider public health consequences or had the potential to cause harm to the consumer, then we will carry out an investigation. We will work closely with the laboratories of the public analyst and the local authority for the factory where the food was produced. This process can take many weeks, so you should not expect a quick outcome.
- If the complaint is about a product purchased outside of Somerset you should contact the local authority where the product was purchased. The Food Safety Team will assist in identifying the relevant local authority and may, in certain circumstances, assist in transporting the product to the appropriate authority.
We will ask you to give a statement and confirm your willingness to appear in court, if necessary.
The Food Safety Team will not become involved in any claim for compensation, our role is solely to establish if there has been any breach of food safety law. The court may make a compensation order, if we prosecute successfully.
Investigation of complaints, dependent upon the food chain involved, can take some considerable time to conclude. Officers will endeavour to communicate with you throughout the process.
If you want a refund or compensation, you should speak to the food business operator, or get legal advice from a solicitor.
Report an issue or make a complaint
To report an issue, you can either:
- raise the issue with the person who sold you the food item
- ask us to investigate.
If you return the product to the seller, it will be more difficult for us to investigate.
If you want us to investigate, you will need to sign a declaration asking us to investigate on your behalf.
- keep as much of the food as possible
- store the food in a freezer to keep the sample fresh
- keep any packaging and receipts
- complete our form below.
If you would like to report a food business or make a food complaint, contact us online or phone 0300 123 2224.
What happens next
We may decide to take samples when we receive a complaint about food or when a food premises has given us cause for concern. We check for organisms in these samples that may lead to food poisoning.
If we find an issue with a product, we will advise the business on production methods, best practices, controls and staff training.
If necessary, we can withdraw products from sale or take formal action to enforce food safety law.