Either food purchased from a shop, a meal eaten in a restaurant or a takeaway meal found to contain something that clearly should not be there is a food product issue and we may investigate further.
What we deal with
Some examples of things that we may investigate include:
- foods containing foreign bodies (glass, insects, plasters, etc.)
- food that is out of condition (mouldy, rotten, off-smelling etc.)
- food that is out of date and is suspected of making someone ill
If you have a complaint about a food product you have purchased in Eastbourne or Lewes you may report it to us using our online contact form. Please give us as much information as you can.
Dealing with food contamination complaints
Our aim is to ensure that complaints are investigated and dealt with according to the level of risk they pose.
When we receive a complaint, one of our officers decides if it needs investigating further, based on their professional training, discretion and the following criteria:
- there is potential for significant risk to public health or safety
- the council is the correct enforcing authority
- sufficient evidence exists to support further investigation
Storing your food
If the food complaint is a serious health risk and you want us to investigate, you should:
- reseal food and put it in a safe place - fridge or freezer as necessary
- keep all food, packaging, wrapping, labels and receipt safe
- keep the food in its original container, where possible
- avoid handling foreign objects - if they are embedded in the food do not move them
- avoid eating remaining products in the pack, e.g. a six pack or a four pack etc.
What happens next?
Once a food complaint has been made and we agree to investigate, we will either contact you to arrange to collect the food or for you to bring it in to the council.
We will ask you a number of questions relating to where and when you bought the food, when you found the complaint in question, effects of eating the food, how the food was stored etc. We will ask you whether you are willing to give evidence in Court, this may be in person, or via a Witness Statement. This is essential if we are going to take formal action.
You may remain anonymous, but please note that we are unable to take formal action without your name and address.
It is your decision to pursue the complaint through us and if you allow us to investigate your complaint we are unlikely to be able to return the food to you.
We cannot get a refund for your food or seek compensation on your behalf. If you are looking to claim compensation you must seek legal advice.
If your complaint does not meet our investigation criteria or pose a serious health risk we cannot deal with it. In these cases, you may be able to resolve it by contacting the owner of the food business yourself and discussing the complaint with them. They may offer you a refund and/or carry out their own internal investigation.
Return the food to the shop, together with the packaging and receipt and ask to speak to the person in charge. In some cases you may need to write or telephone the manufacturer. Explain the nature of your complaint and ask them to investigate it. Ask them to write to you with their explanations of how the problem arose.
Common food complaints leaflet
Download our leaflet below about some of the most common food complaints we receive. It also gives our suggested course of action.