If you are unfortunate enough to find a foreign object in a food item or buy something which is mouldy what should you do?
You can report it to the shop that sold you the food, or to the manufacturer (customer care telephone numbers can sometimes be found on the food packaging). They will often carry out similar investigations to the local authority for their own quality and safety assurance procedures, and they may compensate you.
Alternatively the Environmental Health Team can look into the matter. If you ask us to investigate a food complaint, you should be aware that we cannot pursue any financial compensation on your behalf.
We are unable to deal with:
- Food purchased outside the Borough of Dartford. You must contact the local authority where the food was purchased
- Complaints about damaged food, where food safety is not affected. In these cases, you should contact the business that sold the food directly
- Food Complaints which are dealt with by Kent County Council Trading Standards, such as
* Food that has no 'Use By' or 'Best Before' date
* Food that has the wrong labelling or is inappropriately labelled
* Food which is described wrongly or misleadingly
* Food which is not of the declared weight
What should I do with the food?
- Keep the food as it would normally be stored in the shop (eg. crisps at room temperature; cooked meat in the fridge; frozen peas in the freezer).
- If you are worried about contaminating other food, put the complaint and its wrapper in a clean bag or container.
- Don't try to remove any foreign bodies from the food. If you do, keep all the parts found in a clean bag or container. Don't try to clean or interfere with the food in case it needs to be analysed.
- If the food was part of a multi-pack, we will need to examine the rest of the pack, but please do not open the remaining items.
- Keep any food wrappers and outer packaging.
- Keep any receipts, if you still have them
What should I do next?
Contact the Environmental Health Team as soon as possible Online: Contact the E.H Support Team or calling 01322 343434.
An officer will contact you to discuss your complaint and you will be asked to bring it into the Council Offices along with the packaging and the receipt. You will also be asked to sign a declaration stating you agree:
- To give evidence in court, if required
- That the decision to take enforcement action rests with Dartford Borough Council
- The examination of the food complaint may result in its destruction, so you may not be able to use it as evidence if you decide to take civil action later.
What happens next?
We will gather as much information as possible to determine the source of your complaint and the reasons why it occurred. When the investigation is complete, we will decide on the appropriate course of action and advise you.
In certain circumstances, we may decide that it is not necessary to carry out a detailed investigation. In this case, the food may be given to the manufacturer so that they can look into the problem themselves and try and prevent it from happening again.
How long does it take to investigate food complaints?
Complaints can sometimes be investigated very quickly - perhaps within a few days. However, some complaints may take several months or more to investigate. This can happen if we have to involve other agencies such as laboratories / analysts, manufacturers, suppliers or other local authorities.