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Food complaints

The food that you buy must be fit to eat and free from contamination. We will investigate complaints about food purchased within the borough to ensure food and food packaging meet legal requirements.

If you buy food and then find a problem with it, you could take it back to the shop to be replaced or to have a refund, of course. In most cases this will be the best thing to do. But what if you buy food that is contaminated?

We will investigate complaints that present a public health risk relating to:

  • Contamination by mould or foreign matter/objects
  • Contamination by microorganisms or their toxins
  • Unfit food
  • Food sold beyond its use by date

Food businesses have a legal duty to only sell food that is fit for human consumption and which is of a satisfactory standard and quality. If you find a problem then contact our Food Hygiene & Safety team and we will take appropriate action if the law has been broken.

Please have a look at our Common Food Complaints (PDF Document, 0.39 Mb) which covers in further detail common food complaints that present a risk to public health.


What if I buy food which is contaminated?

It is important that you keep all the food, not just the foreign body. Place it in a suitable container e.g a plastic bag or an air tight sandwich box and keep it in your fridge. Take care to place it where it cannot come into contact with other foods or where it can get dripped on.

If the foreign body is embedded in the food e.g an insect in a slice of cake, do not try to remove it. Keep all the packaging, including the lids of cans, tops of packets etc and the receipt if possible as they may be needed to identify the factory where the food was made or the date and time of manufacture.

We do not investigate all food complaints, some are dealt with by Trading Standards, such as most food labelling issues, illegal additives, and pet foods.

There are also some complaints that we will not investigate because there is no risk to public health or safety. If your complaint falls into this category you will be advised of this, and the reason why.


Can I claim compensation?

We will investigate your complaint looking at issues of food safety from a criminal law point of view and we do not get involved in issues of compensation.

When we have completed our investigation and with your permission we will release your details to the retailer or manufacturer, as they usually wish to offer you some minimal recompense for your unsatisfactory purchase.

This will usually be more than your legal entitlement, which is a refund in most instances. If you want more information on your civil rights contact the Leicestershire Consumer Advice and Information on:

  • Tel: 0116 2657979


Best before and use by dates

It is illegal to sell food past its use by date, or to alter the use by date. Use-by dates are used for foods that may not be safe after that date.

It is NOT illegal to sell food after its best before date. Best before dates mean that the manufacturer guarantees that the food will be of best quality up to that date.

After that date the quality may decline. Best before dates are usually for longer life products. Just click on the link to get more information on use by and best before dates.

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