What to do if you have a Food Complaint
Anyone with a complaint about food they have purchased or food premises they have visited in the Council area should use the details below to contact Environmental Health staff as soon as possible during normal office hours (Mon – Fri 9.00am – 5.00pm) so we can take the initial details and advise on how best to keep the food before it reaches us.
An officer will then contact you to either arrange collection of the food or ask you to bring it into the Council if convenient to do so. We will also require the following information:-
- where and when you bought the food
- how you discovered the cause for complaint
- how you stored the food since you bought it
- how the food was packaged when you bought it
- how your complaint affected you. (For example, were you injured or ill, did you lose any money as a result?)
- as your complaint could lead to prosecution, we may ask you and other witnesses to provide statements.
Advice on handling food complaints
- Reseal food and put it in a safe place - refrigerator or freezer as necessary.
- Do not tamper with the food and leave all foreign bodies in the food for the Officer to examine.
- Keep all packaging and other packs that are of the same type for the Officer to examine.
- Avoid eating remaining products in the pack, e.g. a six pack or a four pack etc.
- Make some notes that could be used in the form of a statement to include where and when you purchased the product, at what time etc. Details of handling the product at purchase up to when the problem was discovered and following the discovery.
- Keep any evidence of purchase e.g. receipt
Food purchased outside Causeway Coast and Glens Council Area
If your food wasn’t purchased in our Council area, you will be asked to contact the local authority where you made your purchase. We can assist with contact details so that you can contact them directly. Alternatively, we can refer the complaint for you.
How do we investigate your complaint?
As part of the investigation we may contact the manufacturer or importer of the food and their Local Authority. The premises that sold you the food may be visited and inspected.
The time taken to investigate a complaint will vary, ranging from a few days to many months if analysis of the food is required. Often we send samples of food complaints to a council-appointed public analyst who gives us an expert opinion on what is wrong with it. The food is very often destroyed during analysis so we won’t be able to return it to you later.
The complaint investigation will establish whether any offence has been committed. If there haven’t been any offences and there is no continuing risk to health, the investigation will be closed. The decision on the most appropriate course of action to be taken will be made by the Environmental Health Service in line with our Enforcement Policy. This may range from a warning letter to a formal caution or prosecution. When formal action is appropriate, you may be asked to attend court as a witness. It will be necessary to release your name to the company if we take legal proceedings.
Will this investigation help me to claim compensation?
The purpose of our investigation is not to obtain compensation for you. If you wish to seek compensation you should take independent legal advice regarding this.