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Food complaints

If you have a complaint relating to the safety of food purchased within Guildford Borough, or information regarding poor hygiene in a food premises located within the borough, we can investigate.

We deal with complaints ranging from unhygienic food premises, poor food handling practices and suspected food poisoning.

Complaints about food can include foods contaminated with chemicals, foreign objects or food that may have deteriorated or turned mouldy.

We undertake an investigation to determine the source of the problem, aiming to prevent a reoccurrence and protect the public. We are not able to assist you obtain a refund or make a claim for compensation.

Report suspected food poisoning

If you believe that the food you have bought from a food premises in Guildford Borough has given you symptoms of food poisoning, you can call our Customer Service Centre on 01483 505050.

The scope of our investigation will be limited unless you have seen your GP and submitted a faecal specimen for analysis.

Food premises hygiene

We investigate complaints about food premises if they relate to a food safety issue in premises located with Guildford Borough. We can investigate:

  • poor standards of kitchen cleanliness

  • food storage risks

  • poor food handling practices

  • sighting of pests/vermin in food premises

Dealing with your food complaint

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.

What you should do depends on the type of problem - for relatively minor complaints such as pea pod debris in a can of processed peas, or some carbonised dough in the middle of a bread roll, it is best to complain directly to the company that sold you the food.

If your complaint is more serious and could pose a public health risk, you should report it to us.

When you make a complaint, we will need to know:

  • your name, address, telephone contact numbers (mobile, home and work), and email contact details as appropriate

  • any evidence you have including the original packaging, the complaint item, leftover food, till receipts etc

  • the identity and contact address of the person who discovered the cause of the complaint, if it was not you

  • as much as possible about the food, where you bought it, when, the condition of the packaging etc

  • the food history from purchase to the point of discovery

  • what you have done with it and any treatment (e.g. refrigeration or cooking) it has undergone while in your possession

  • the name and address of any witnesses who were present when you discovered the problem

  • any ill effects or any injuries that you have suffered as a result of consuming the food

  • whether you have been to hospital or contacted your doctor about any ill effects

  • any contact you have had with the vendor or manufacturer.

To help us investigate your complaint you please bring the item into the Council Offices as soon as possible, together with any supporting evidence. If the item is one of a pack please bring these in also. Don't be tempted to pull out any foreign object found in the food - leave it in place.

When you pass a food complaint over to us for investigation, we will give you:

  • a receipt confirming you're allowing us to deal with the complaint

  • the name and telephone number of the officer dealing with the complaint

  • a summary sheet of the proposed action detailing timescales for the investigation.

It may take several weeks for us to investigate your complaint as manufacturers often have to be contacted and be given the opportunity to conduct their own internal investigations and provide an explanation as to how the problem occurred. We often contact the local authority in whose area the manufacturer is situated and liaise with the local Environmental Health Officer.

If formal action is considered necessary, Guildford Borough Council will ask you to make a statement and you may be asked to attend court and give evidence.

Food complaints that we do not deal with directly

If you have a complaint about a food premises or food produced outside Guildford Borough then we will advise you on which local authority will deal with your complaint and may be able to assist in transferring the food to that local authority.

If your complaint is about food sold past the use by date, best before date, incorrect labelling, food composition, adulteration, misleading claims, or food quality, you should contact Trading Standards.

Should your complaint relate to a product purchased within our district, but manufactured abroad, we liaise with the Food Standards Agency who will investigate on our behalf.