Food complaints

Making a complaint about food sold in the borough

Sometimes, it will be best to complain directly to the retailer who sold the food or the company that manufactured it - for example if you are not fully satisfied with the product and you just want your money back. 

Most large companies have efficient quality control and complaints procedures to enable customers to return an unsatisfactory food item and obtain a refund.  The business will log these complaints and refer them to their suppliers, who can then identify trends and take remedial action.

The council has a duty to investigate certain complaints about food where there is a public health risk.  However, before you report your concerns about food sold in the borough, please take some time to read the following information about the most common problems associated with food. The information provided details the type of food complaints we are able to deal with and advises you who to contact if we cannot. 

View or download a guide to common food complaints

If we receive a complaint that we cannot deal with we will refer you to the appropriate guidance. We can only investigate complaints where there is a potential public health risk.

Complaints we can deal with

  • Food that is not safe to eat or actually makes you ill.  If food poisoning is suspected, it must be confirmed by your GP, you will need to provide a stool sample.
  • Food that is so contaminated that it could not reasonably be eaten (such as food that was mouldy, decomposing at the time of purchase or food contaminated with chemicals or toxins).
  • Undercooked high risk food (such as chicken and burgers).
  • Packaged food that contains a foreign object (such as insects, metal, glass).
  • Improper use of additives (such as food colourings).
  • Composition, quality and nature of food issues (e.g. sausages containing less than the minimum percentage of meat, or Pollock sold as Cod).
  • Incorrect food labelling, misleading claims and false description of foods.
  • Food and drink that has been tampered with.
  • Food which is sold or offered for sale that has an expired 'use by' date.
  • In adequate allergen information in restaurants, takeaways and cafes.

Complaints we cannot deal with

  • Poor food quality, for example; over-ripe or damaged fruit and vegetables.
  • Poor customer service.
  • Food that is beyond its 'best before' date / ‘minimum durability date’.
  • Problems caused when you did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions (such as using out of date food).
  • Claims for compensation or refunds.
  • When you have returned a product before contacting us
  • The presence of materials that can be considered to be naturally present in the food concerned or its surrounding environment - (such as struvite in tinned salmon, Cod worms, charred bakery products, insects on or in fruit and vegetables and bone in meat, fish and poultry products.

Making a complaint

What we need to know:

  • Where and when the food was bought (it’s good to have the receipt).
  • How the problem was discovered, and by who.
  • What ill effects the consumer has suffered, if any.
  • If food poisoning is suspected, it must be confirmed by your GP by producing a stool sample.
  • Whether you are prepared to support us in taking legal action. This may involve providing a statement, and /or evidence in court.

What to do with the food:

  • Keep all food and wrapping or packaging.
  • Keep perishable food refrigerated or frozen, especially if your complaint involves decomposition or off smells and tastes.
  • Don’t put the food in a place where further deterioration or contamination could take place (e.g. near other foods, in the bin).
  • Leave any ‘foreign object’ in the food and do not handle it.

Getting the food to us:

When we make contact with you we may ask you to bring the food to Bromley Civic Centre so that we can examine it. We do not recommend posting food complaints to us and we do not collect food complaints.

What we will do:

While we acknowledge our duty to investigate complaints, we may not investigate complaints that present a low public health risk immediately.  However the information that is provided will be used to help us identify food businesses that require urgent attention. Less urgent matters will be addressed at the next routine inspection of the food business. This approach will enable us to target our resources where the greatest risk to public health exists.

In order for the council to take formal legal action against a food business there must be a public health risk. Any formal action must also comply with the council’s enforcement policy. 

How to make a complaint

Please complete the online complaint form to make a complaint about food sold in the borough, or a Bromley based food business.  You will need to  provide full contact details; name, address, telephone number, email and a full account of the complaint or issue you would like to bring to the councils attention.

Your personal details will not be passed to any third parties without your consent.

We aim to contact you within 5 working days of making a complaint.