We investigate food hygiene and food safety complaints that present a high risk to public health.

What we can investigate

Some of the complaints we can investigate:

  • Poor hygiene standards in a food premise
  • Food sold past use by date
  • Food contamination
  • Foreign bodies in food
  • Poor food handling practices
  • Pest sightings
  • Incorrect or missing allergen information
  • When an allergen free food product has caused an allergic reaction
  • Confirmed food poisoning

You can make complaints anonymously, but if you don’t give your details, we are not able to access legal powers that allow us to investigate. We will only give your details to the retailer or manufacturer with your permission.

What we cannot investigate

  • Food sold or produced outside the Warrington  area. We may investigate a complaint about a food produced in another area if it was purchased in Warrington.
  • Food sold past its best before date – Best before dates relate to quality and not safety.
  • Some quality issues such as taste.
  • Claims for a refund or seeking compensation.
  • Suspected food poisoning

Food poisoning

If you suspect that you have food poisoning, contact your GP for health advice for yourself and those around you.

Food poisoning can only be confirmed by submitting a faecal specimen to a laboratory for testing.  This is the only way to find what has caused the illness. You can request this through your GP.

Confirmed food poisoning

Some infectious diseases, such as food poisoning, are reported to us from the laboratory and will be treated in the same way as a report made from you directly.

Suspected food poisoning

Without evidence from the laboratory there is very little action that we can take. This is because the symptoms of food poisoning are very similar to many other illnesses. The incubation period for food related illnesses varies and can be as long as 10 days before any symptoms begin. The source may not be the last thing eaten but another food eaten during the incubation period, inside or outside of the home.

Whilst we may not be able to undertake a meaningful investigation any report that you make still provides us with information which will allow us to note any patterns, such as multiple or repeat cases.

We might not contact you after receiving your report, but we will use the information for any future inspections.

After we receive your report, we will contact you to gather additional information to support our investigation and complete a questionnaire. This may include:

  • Details of symptoms, including when they began and how long they lasted
  • A food diary, detailing foods eaten before you were ill
  • Details of any other close contacts being ill
  • If applicable, details of the food business implicated
  • Details of any travel

Making a complaint

To help us in investigating your complaint you should:

  • Keep and preserve the food where possible
  • Keep any receipts, labels, and packaging from the food.
  • Keep any foreign body

We may ask you to provide details and photographs of the food and in some cases, we may wish to collect the food item from you.

Please include as much detail as possible in your report.

Next steps

If your report requires investigation, or if we require further information, we will contact you. Investigations can be long, and the outcome will vary from case to case.

Reports that cannot be investigated, or it is a low risk to public health, will be logged for information purposes. You may not receive any further contact from us.

Helpful links and advice

Information from the Food Standards Agency and the  NHS on food poisoning.

Common illnesses associated with food poisoning