Dealing with Food Complaints
If you have purchased a food item in St Helens and you consider it to be unsafe, or you are unhappy with food safety standards you have encountered within businesses. Then we will investigate to establish whether there is a problem. We receive approximately 200 complaints relating to food or food businesses in the borough each year. These complaints include:
- Foreign bodies in food, e.g. glass, hair, wood
- Unpleasant taste in food
- Poor handling of food by shop assistants
- Dirty condition of food premises
- Suspected food poisoning following eating from a food premises
What should you do with a food complaint?
- We will need to see the food and/or packaging to establish whether there is a problem
- Do not remove the foreign body or food from it's container or packaging
- If handling the food is unavoidable, handle as little as possible
- Retain all packaging and receipts
- Contact the Environmental Health section as soon as possible
- You will be asked for details of your complaint, where and when purchased and any illness suffered
- Store the food away from other food stuffs, preferably in a refrigerator or other cool place
- The food will be collected by the Environmental Health Officer (unless you deliver it to the offices yourself)
When we receive a food complaint, the following action is taken:
- The complaint is usually photographed, labelled and securely stored
- The officer involved will action the complaint within 2 working days of receipt
- The officer may invite a representative of the company to visit the Council offices, or a photograph or the actual complaint item may be sent to the supplier involved
- If the officer deems it appropriate, the complaint will be submitted to an analytical laboratory for analysis
- When the investigation is complete, the Officer will contact you to explain what they intend to do
The action taken will be one of the following:
- Informal advice to the business operator
- Strong verbal or written warning
- Formal caution
- Legal proceedings
The officer will keep you informed on the progress of your complaint and, before closing the complaint, will ask your permission for your name and address to be released to the company.
All food complaints are treated in the strictest confidence. By bringing your complaint to our notice you have helped to reduce the chance of such a complaint happening again.
Please note that we will not help you in any action you may take to get compensation from the company or trader concerned. This is a matter between you and the food business and you are advised to seek legal advice from a solicitor.
The Food Safety team carries out regular food sampling. A sampling programme is prepared each year and samples are taken on a monthly basis and sent for microbiological examination.
Foods sampled usually include open (unwrapped) high-risk foods such as cooked meats and pies, and food that is manufactured or prepared within St Helens Borough.
By telephone on 01744 676299 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org