Make a food complaint

How to make a food complaint and who to complain to.

Complaints we investigate

We investigate complaints about food premises within the borough. We only investigate complaints that relate to food safety issues. We do not investigate complaints about customer service, quality or food price, misdescribed food, labelling problems or fake alcohol. These matters are dealt with by Surrey County Council Trading Standards (external link).

The type of complaints that we investigate include:

  • poor cleanliness in kitchens and storage
  • poor food handling practices
  • sightings of pests
  • alleged food poisoning

Make a complaint

The Environmental Health team will deal with complaints about food bought within the borough of Surrey Heath that pose a public health risk. The team cannot assist in any compensation claims. You should contact the retailer directly.

We will deal with:

  • food that is not safe to eat or actually makes you ill (food poisoning)
  • food that is so contaminated that it could not reasonably be eaten (such as a mouldy pie)
  • food that contains a foreign object (such as a fragment of glass in a loaf of bread)

In order for the team to take formal action there will have to be:

  • a public health risk
  • a good chain of evidence (such as details of where the food was bought, any relevant packaging)
  • evidence that the company concerned has not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the problem

Any formal action must also comply with the Council's enforcement policy. It may take several weeks for the investigating officer to collect all information necessary for deciding what action is appropriate. Once determined this may result in informal advice to avoid a recurrence or formal action against the company.

Complain to a shop, manufacturer or supplier

For relatively minor problems it is best to complain directly to the company that sold you the food.

For example, if you are not fully satisfied with the product and you just want your money back, or it is not of a serious nature. Most supermarket chains have an efficient complaints procedure to enable customers to return an unsatisfactory food item and obtain a refund. They log these complaints and refer them to their suppliers, who can then identify trends, resulting in remedial action where necessary.

Do's and don'ts when making a complaint


  • keep receipts (not essential but helpful)
  • obtain the exact name and address where the food was purchased
  • keep the food in the wrapper and container
  • keep perishable food in the refrigerator or freezer (especially if your complaint involves decomposition or 'off' smells and tastes)


  • be tempted to handle or pull out any foreign object found in the food - leave it in place
  • put the food in a place where further deterioration or contamination could take place (keep it in the fridge, but separate from other foods)
  • throw away any of the food, packaging or receipt

Complain about a premises in the borough

Should you wish to complain about a premises in Surrey Heath please email (links sends email).