Food and food premises complaints

We investigate complaints made about food hygiene in food premises and food that you think is unsafe.

Please note: We do not investigate all complaints.

Some are dealt with by Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) Trading Standards Team, examples include:

  • Food that is not of the declared weight
  • Food of poor quality
  • False descriptions or inappropriate labelling of food and drink.

We will investigate

  • Food hygiene in food premises (e.g. dirty conditions, unhygienic food handling by staff etc.)
  • Food which may be linked to food poisoning (*see footnote below) or has become contaminated
  • Food containing foreign bodies (e.g. glass, metal, wood, insects)
  • Mouldy food
  • Food that has expired its ‘use-by’ date

We will not investigate

  • Food purchased outside the Burnley Council district
  • Any claims for compensation or refunds. This is a matter between the purchaser and the manufacturer
  • Food which has expired its ‘Best Before’ date. It is not illegal to sell food after its best before date. Best before means that the manufacturer guarantees that the food will be of best quality up until that date
  • Complaints about food quality e.g. over ripe vegetables and fruits

How to make a food complaint

Report is to us online.

  • Keep evidence of the food
  • Keep any receipts, labels and packaging materials
  • Try to preserve the food or drink in its original condition
  • Store perishable foods in the chiller or freezer until you are able to bring it into the Contact Centre. If you are complaining about mould then place it in the fridge, not the freezer
  • If you do keep any food complaint, make sure it can’t contaminate any other food item in your home

Please note: we can’t take food that has been placed in and then removed from the bin. 

What happens next?

The outcome and investigation time will depend on the nature of the complaint.  
We will keep you informed of any information we receive and action taken if appropriate.
If any legal action is taken, you may need to give a witness statement and evidence in court.

Will I get compensation?

No, our priority is public health. We cannot act on your behalf to claim compensation or get your money back. However, you may take private action and seek advice from a solicitor.

You can deal with food complaints yourself by reporting them to the shop that sold you the food, or to the manufacturer (customer care telephone numbers are sometimes found on the food packaging). They will often carry out similar investigations to a local authority for their own quality and safety assurance procedures and they may compensate you.

False complaints

It is a criminal offence to make false complaints about food.  We are obligated to contact the police if we think a false complaint has been reported.

*Footnote re food poisoning: Please note that it may not have been the last food eaten by you that has caused your illness.

Most bacteria have an incubation time of around 12 to 72 hours after eating before causing food poisoning symptoms. The most likely cause is therefore food that was eaten either the previous day, or up to three days before. In some cases, it can even be as long as a week to ten days before symptoms develop.