Food Complaints

Our food team investigates complaints relating to standards in food premises within the district 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:

  1. 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 feed back complaints about food products to their head office, enabling any generalised problem to be identified. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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, working 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.
  4. If the complaint is about a product purchased outside of South 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, although 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.

Common Food Complaints

The advice sheets below are for the more common food complaints and you should refer to these in the first instance. 

If you have been harmed by food you have consumed you may be entitled in law to damages, and should consult Consumer Direct, the Citizens' Advice Bureau or a solicitor.  If you have not been harmed then your entitlement is restricted to a refund from the retailer.


 Local food hygiene course providers and trainers


 Public Register and other useful information:

 Public Register

Enforcement Policy  and leaflet

Appeals process for businesses

 Food and Safety Unit Service Plan 2017/18

Food Safety Fees and Charges

 Food and Hygiene Publications and Leaflets

 Food Standards Agency

 Village Halls and Food

For further information please contact the Food Safety Team