Food and food premises complaints

You should contact the council to report one of the following issues:

  • poor food hygiene at a food establishment
  • a foreign object in your food. Please see the food complaint advice.
  • cleanliness of food premises, facilities or staff
  • you believe food has made you ill

If you complaint is regarding one of the below, please contact Gloucestershire Trading Standards.

  • complaints about food quality, for example sour milk, over-ripe fruit and vegetables.
  • false descriptions and/or inappropriate labelling of food and drink.
  • food and drink that has been tampered with, for example added water or fat.
  • food that is beyond its 'best before' date.

How to report it

 or contact us.

What information will we require

  • where and when the food was bought, keep the receipt if possible
  • how the problem was discovered and who by
  • how the problem has affected you and if you suspect you have food poisoning whether it has been confirmed by a doctor
  • whether you would support us in taking legal action, such as providing a statement or evidence in court

What to do with the food

  • keep all food and packaging
  • keep the food in the original container, where possible
  • keep perishable foods in the fridge or freezer
  • leave any foreign object in the food, don't handle it

Once the investigating officer has collected the relevant information, the most appropriate action will be determined. The whole investigation process should take no more than one month. However, some investigations can be prolonged, especially if a food analysis has to be carried out, or information obtained from other persons or organisations, including food manufacturers and other Food Authorities.

Common incidents and suggested actions

Discovering a foreign object in food is a very unpleasant experience, however, not all pose a serious health risk. Listed below are common food complaints with a short explanation and suggested course of action.

If in doubt, please contact us. Please note that when we investigate food complaints, we cannot get involved with compensation issues.

Tinned foods

Foreign object Description Action
Insects Occasionally, small grubs may be discovered in canned vegetables especially  sweetcorn and tomatoes.  The grubs are the larvae of a moth which live inside the sweetcorn kernel or tomato and are impossible to see before they are processed.  Although it isn't pleasant to find a grub in your food, they are killed and sterilised by the canning process.  As the use of pesticides decreases, these types of problem will increase.

Contact the manufacturer or supermarket. 

No public health risk.

Wasps and fruit flies These are naturally associated with fruit and so often found in tins of fruit.  They do not carry disease.

Contact the manufacturer or supermarket. 

No public health risk.

Struvite Some naturally occurring elements in fish may develop into hard crystals during the canning process.  These crystals may be mistaken for glass fragments and are called Struvite.  They are not harmful and will be broken down by the stomach acid if swallowed.  Struvite is especially common in tinned salmon and will dissolve if placed in vinegar and gently heated for up to 15-20 minutes (they may not dissolve completely in this time but will reduce in size).  Glass will not dissolve.

Heat gently in vinegar for 15-20 minutes, if struvite contact the manufacturer, if glass, contact us.

No public health risk if struvite, if glass, please contact us.


Dented, damaged or incorrectly processed tins may allow mould growth to occur.  This could indicate an error in production or storage.

Contact us.

Possible public health risk.


Foreign object Description Action

White fish such as cod or haddock may be infested with a small, round brownish/yellow worm found in the flesh. They are killed by cooking and are harmless to humans.  The affected parts of the fish are usually cut away, but some may be missed.

Contact the manufacturer or supermarket. 

No public health risk.

Meat and poultry

Foreign object Description Action
Skin, bone etc

Products made from meat and/or poultry may contain small bones, skin or parts of blood vessels.  These are unsightly but rarely a health hazard as they are normal parts of the original animal.  They may sometimes cause problems such as a chipped tooth and these are best dealt with by the individual - via the Civil Court if necessary.

Note: It is very rare for prohibited parts of an animal e.g. genitals, eyes, eye-lids etc or non food animals e.g. cats and dogs to be used for human food.  Meat such as chicken or lamb is easily available and relatively inexpensive so that the use of prohibited parts or species is not economic.

Contact the manufacturer or supermarket. 

No public health risk

Fruit and vegetables

Foreign object Description Action
Stones, soil and slugs

Fruit and vegetables commonly have soil, stones or small slugs adhering to them.  This is quite normal as they originate from the soil. 

Wash all salad items thoroughly.

No public health risk.

Bakery goods

Foreign object Description Action
Bakery char

Bread and cakes may contain bits of overcooked dough which has flaked off bakery tins.  It does not necessarily indicate poor hygiene although they may be mistaken for rodent droppings which are black and regular torpedo shaped, whilst bakery char is greyish and uneven in shape.

Contact manufacturer or if in doubt,contact us.

No public health risk.

Carbonised grease

The machinery used to produce bread and cakes is lubricated with a non-toxic vegetable oil.  Occasionally some of this may become incorporated into the dough giving the product a grey/greasy appearance.

Contact manufacturer.

No public health risk.

Dried foods

Foreign object Description Action

Dried products such as flour, sugar and pulses may contain small insects such as psocids (book lice).  These do not carry diseases, but they are unsightly and can eat through the paper of the packet.  They breed very quickly in warm, humid conditions and so spread into uncontaminated food very quickly.

 No public health risk.

Chocolate and confectionery

Foreign object Description Action

Chocolate may develop a light coloured bloom if stored at too high a temperature.  It is not mould but due to fat separation and it is not harmful.

Return to retailer.

No public health risk.

Sugar crystals

Large sugar crystals may form in confectionery and may be mistaken for glass.  The crystals will dissolve in warm water.

No public health risk if sugar crystals, public health risk if glass, please contact us if so.