Make a Food Complaint

Despite the routine inspecting of food businesses and the sampling of foods, there are occasions when things do go wrong and consumers need to complain about food items or premises.

The Commercial Environmental Health Team is responsible for investigating a variety of issues relating to the processing, handling, storage and/or distribution of food in Haringey.

What do I do when I have a food complaint?

Contact the customer services call centre as soon as possible - Monday-Friday on 020 8489 1335.

It is important you try to avoid disturbing the food as much as possible. You should also try to keep the food item in its original packaging. Perishable foods should be kept in the freezer.

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What will we investigate?

Our policy is to investigate all food complaints for which we are the responsible authority. At the outset it will be explained to you that we cannot get you a refund for your food. At this point you can decide whether to pursue the food complaint through us, or to return to where you bought it for the store to carry out an investigation.

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How long will the investigation take?

Following on from the receipt of a complaint about a food item (or premises), you will be required to bring the food complaint to the council offices. A food safety officer will then undertake an investigation to identify the reasons for the complaint.

This can result in a lengthy process involving various parties which may include the retailer, wholesaler, producer, importer, manufacturer and public analysts for microbiological examination or chemical analysis. The investigation may also involve other local authorities, particularly where the food is not manufactured in Haringey.

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Why do we investigate?

The purpose of the investigations is to:

  • Safeguard public health
  • Try and prevent the problem recurring
  • Ensure food establishments are preparing and serving food as safely and hygienically as possible (known as Due Diligence)

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What is Due Diligence Defence?

This is a defence where a company must prove that all reasonable steps had been taken to prevent the complaint from happening. In other words, the food business involved could not have done anything more to prevent the problem from occurring despite their best efforts. Many investigations show that a 'due diligence defence' exists, controls are very good, but the complaint happened anyway.

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Do we investigate all complaints?

There are some complaints that we will not investigate because they are either unjustified or pose no risk to public health or safety. If your complaint falls into this category we will let you know and explain why.

  • Where evidence indicates malicious tampering of the food, details will be passed to the police

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Common food complaints

There are also a number of common complaints about foreign objects in food and a number of the items found are either normal parts of the food or harmless contamination, most of which can be dealt with by returning the item to the retailer.

Factsheets are available in the attached files section on roundworms in fish, psocids, crystals in canned seafood. There is also a list of common food complaints which will guide you to the best way of dealing with your concerns. If you are still not satisfied contact Commercial Environmental Health.

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What do we need to progress your food complaint?

We are unable to carry out an investigation without the food, so you will need to bring the item of food you are complaining about into the council offices. We must have the packaging so we can check the batch codes, dates and the company who made the product.

On receipt of the food item we will obtain as much information as possible about the circumstances of purchase and discovery.

You will be requested to complete and sign a form agreeing to the voluntary surrender of the food. Once you have handed the food item over to us, you relinquish all rights to the food. This may be returned to you after the investigation is complete.

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What actions are taken?

On completing the investigation process, and depending on the evidence gathered the investigating officer will determine whether the food business/individual is dealt with formally or informally. You will be advised accordingly of any actions taken.

The investigating officer will keep you updated throughout the course of the investigation.

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Contact details

Commercial Environmental Health
Level 4 - Alexandra House
10 Station Road 
Wood Green
N22 7TR 

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Attached files

Common Food Complaints PDF 42.74 KB
Factsheet - PsocidsPDF 38.37 KB
Factsheet - Round WormsPDF 25.97 KB
Factsheet - Struvite crystals in canned seafoodPDF 26.92 KB

Page last updated:

January 11, 2023

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