The Environmental Health service can investigate complaints about food products which pose a risk to public health, but many problems can be resolved by contacting the retailer or the manufacturer.
Food packaging will often have details for contacting the manufacturer or retailer directly if you are dissatisfied with a product. The Environmental Health Service is unable to help you with obtaining a refund or compensation.
Common food complaints
Damaged packaging SHOW
Food packaging can be damaged as products pass through the supply chain, from manufacturer to retailer. Damaged packaging may allow the condition of the food to deteriorate. For example, damaged cartons or cans can allow mould to grow in the food. Food that has deteriorated due to damaged packaging should be returned to the retailer.
Contamination by foreign objects SHOW
Discovering a foreign object in food can be a very unpleasant experience, but most do not pose a serious health risk. Foreign objects may be picked up when food harvested or may be a consequence of the manufacturing process.
Wasps or fruit flies may be found in food containing fruit and can be difficult to eliminate during manufacturing. These do not generally pose a public health risk.
Moth larvae (grubs) can be found in products containing vegetables, such as canned sweetcorn and tomatoes. The larvae grow inside vegetables but they do not pose a serious health risk as they are sterilised along with the food during the canning process.
Greenfly or aphids may be found on salad vegetables. They can be difficult to wash off but they do not pose a health risk.
Dried foods like flour can contain small insects such as psocids. These do not pose a risk to health but they will contaminate other foodstuffs. They thrive in warm and dark conditions, so it is important that you discard any contaminated food and thoroughly clean any affected areas.
Processed food may be contaminated by small pieces of blue plastic. The plastic is coloured blue so that it can be spotted easily, but does not present a health risk. You should contact the manufacturer if you find this type of material in a food product.
Metal and glass SHOW
Food products should not be contaminated with pieces of metal or glass. The presence of metal or glass may be due to a serious problem in the manufacturing process and should be reported to the Environmental Health Service.
Rats and mice SHOW
Rats and mice can damage food and its packaging by gnawing. They may also contaminate food and its packaging with their droppings. If you have bought food that appears to have been damaged by rats or mice you should contact the Environmental Health Service.
Mould can grow on food that has been:
- Damaged (such as bruised fruit or vegetables)
- Stored in damaged packaging
- Stored for an extended period, beyond its 'use by' or 'best before' date
- Stored in an environment that is too warm or too damp
Make a food complaint
The Environmental Health service can take action when public health or safety is at risk.
Make a complaint using the online form.
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