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How to make a food complaint


If you've bought food from a business in County Durham that you're not happy with, you may be able to make a complaint.

What we will investigate

We will investigate any any complaints, where:

  • food is contaminated with foreign objects (for example glass, flies or chemicals)
  • foods have caused food poisoning
  • food is unfit to eat because it's out of date, mouldy or undercooked food
  • an undeclared allergen has caused illness
  • food is not labelled correctly, or the food labelling is misleading

Before we investigate, we will assess your complaint to see if it poses a risk to public safety. In addition, we can only take action if you have:

  • a good chain of evidence, such as details of where the food was bought or relevant packaging
  • evidence that the business you bought the food from has not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the problem from happening

Best before / use by dates

It is not an offence to sell food past its best before date, unless the food is unsafe to eat. It is an offence to sell food past its use by date. 

We only deal with these complaints if the food is unsafe to eat. If the food is not unsafe to eat, you should go directly to the business with your complaint (see what you can do yourself).

How to handle your food

While you wait for our response you should:

  • freeze the food in a clean plastic bag
  • keep any original packaging
  • put any receipt in a safe place

We may ask you to bring the food item to our local office or visit you at home. Please be aware that some food complaints can be complex and take time to investigate.

What you can do yourself

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

Return the food to the company, with the packaging and receipt and outine your complaint. Most supermarkets have a quality control and complaints procedure to enable customers to return an unsatisfactory food complaint and obtain a refund. 

If you are still not satisfied with the response, contact us with details of your complaint, and the response you received. 

Complaints we will not investigate

  • We will not investigate any complaints that do not cause a risk to public health
  • We do not get involved with any complaints that involve compensation claims. If you have a compensation claim, you must speak to the manufacturer directly
Contact us
Food Safety
03000 261 016
Our address is:
  • Environment, Health and Consumer Protect
  • Durham County Council
  • PO Box 617
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 9HZ
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