This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to consumers. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. A large print version is available.
The aim of this leaflet is to make it easier for you contact the right service in your area.
If you have a complaint about any food or drink there may be two ways of sorting out the problem.
When you buy food, you enter into a contract with the seller. If the food is unsatisfactory the seller may be in breach of contract and you may be entitled in CIVIL LAW to compensation. You should take up your complaint yourself with the seller.
If you are not sure what to do, just contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06, and ask for their advice. They will pass any issues which may require action by an enforcement officer to the local enforcement services for consideration. If you wish to make an anonymous complaint you are welcome to do so.
You may feel that your complaint is serious or worrying enough to require investigation by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) or Trading Standards Officer (TSO). EHOs and TSOs are Enforcement Officers, who will investigate breaches of the Food Safety Act 1990 and take enforcement action were appropriate.
To enable enforcement officers to prosecute a trader you may be required to make a formal witness statement and to give evidence in court. However, not all investigations will lead to prosecution. Sometimes, the offender will receive a caution/ written warning instead, or there may be insufficient evidence to take the matter to court.
The Citizens Advice consumer service will pass any issues which may require action by an enforcement officer to the local enforcement services for consideration. Alternatively you may contact your local EHO or TSO directly with these issues.
EHOs and TSOs share responsibility for enforcement of the Food Safety Act 1990. Generally EHOs deal with issues which could cause harm to human health and TSOs deal with issues of false and misleading descriptions. For example:
Then contact your local District Council.
NB: They may have to refer the matter to the Council where the product was purchased or packed.
Badly or improperly labelled food
Poor quality food or food which does not meet compositional standards
Watered down or adulterated food
NB: We may have to refer the matter to the Council where the product was purchased or packed.