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Food Complaints

Food complaints include bacterial contamination which can lead to food poisoning and physical contamination of foods by foreign bodies.  In addition you may be concerned about the hygiene of food premises.

 

Food Poisoning

If you are suffering from suspected food poisoning you must see your GP as soon as possible, not only to get treatment but also in order that samples can be taken.  Without positive samples it is difficult to prove a link between your being poorly and something you may have eaten.

 

You should be aware that it usually takes many hours or even days for the symptoms of food poisoning to show.  Consequently it may not necessarily be the last thing you ate.  A guide to some common food poisoning microorganisms is available here however this is not a substitute for proper medical advice.

 

In addition food poisoning is often mistaken for viral infections caught from other people, such as the norovirus, or even allergic reactions to shellfish.

 

If you have been tested by a doctor and the samples come back positive for a food poisoning microorganism we may contact you and ask you to provide us details of what you have eaten in the last few days.  In this way we can attempt to trace back the cause, especially if other people report similar symptoms.

 

Foreign body complaints

If you have found a foreign contaminant in food you have purchased in the borough of Melton you may contact us in order that we can investigate.  Whilst we can prosecute businesses for contaminating food we are not able to obtain compensation for you.  This will be a civil matter between you and the food producer.

 

If you have a food complaint:

 

  • You must phone us first to make an appointment and discuss the item (01664 502502)
  • Bring in all of the food (or all that remains uneaten), all packaging and any object found once an appointment has been made. 
  • If possible, bring the food in a sealed plastic bag.
  • If the food is perishable (and it might ‘go off’ for example), put it in a freezer until you bring it to us.
  • Gather as much information about the product as you can to give to the officer dealing with the investigation:

 

  1. Your name, address and contact telephone number(s)
  2. The name, address and a contact number of the person who bought the food (if not you)
  3. The name of the person finding the food unsatisfactory (if not you)
  4. When the food was bought
  5. Where the food was bought
  6. Whether you noticed any damage to the packaging when it was bought
  7. The storage conditions of the product when and after it was bought
  8. Anything done to or with the food (cooking for example)
  9. Whether you still have the receipt or any other proof of purchase (not essential)
  10. The circumstances in which the thing wrong with food was found/noticed.


If the product was made outside of our area we will pass the details to the relevant local authority and their Environmental Health department.  They will usually conduct an investigation and report back to us so that we can decide what action to take. 

 

Officers in Environmental Health are authorised to investigate such incidents and will take appropriate action:

 

Formal Action

This involves taking legal action in the Courts. To be successful we need to prove the case by showing a link between, for example, the food poisoning microorganism and the food produced by the restaurant. It may be necessary for the person who complained to provide a witness statement. In very rare cases the complainant may be required to give evidence in Court. Legal action is taken infrequently to deal with the worst cases.

 

Informal Action 

This action is likely where there was a' one off' problem which was unavoidable in an otherwise well run business. Where improvements are made quickly to avoid problems occurring again informal action may be appropriate.

 

Compensation 

Neither formal or informal action requires businesses to give a refund or pay compensation. If you have given your permission, your name and address can be given to the business. Normally businesses will offer a refund or compensation of at least the value of the unsatisfactory food. You will be informed of the outcome of the investigation and action taken. If you have suffered injury or loss as a result of the food complaint you may be able to take civil action. It is best to take legal advice before taking civil action.

 

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