Food Complaints

There are 3 main areas of food complaint:- Foreign objects Foreign objects are things that have found their way into food that shouldn't be there. For example insects or nuts and bolts that…

There are 3 main areas of food complaint:-

Foreign objects

Foreign objects are things that have found their way into food that shouldn't be there. For example insects or nuts and bolts that have come off machinery during foods manufacture.

Foods causing illness

We receive many complaints alleging that a certain food has caused illness. The food being blamed will almost always be the last thing the person ate before becoming ill. However, most food poisoning bacteria do not cause illness until 12 to 36 hours after they have entered the body. This means it will hardly ever be what you ate last that made you ill, but rather what you ate yesterday or even the day before.

For more information on Infectious Diseases including food poisoning follow the link below

Infectious Diseases.


Most pre-packed foods need to carry a date of minimum durability. Normally this is a Best Before date - the date when the food should remain in its best condition i.e. it will not be stale.

Highly perishable foods should have a Use By date on the packaging giving the date by which the food may be used safely. Foods that have use by dates must be removed from sale once that date has passed.

Offences connected with Use By dates are dealt with by Trading Standards Departments

You can contact the local Trading Standards Department:

Tel: 0345 4040506


Making a Complaint

If you make your complaint by telephone we will arrange a time for us to either collect the complaint or for you to see an officer at the Town Hall. This will normally be the same day or the next working day.

When you hand the food over to us you should be given:-

  1. The name and contact number of the officer who will deal with your complaint.
  2. An explanation of what will happen next and what to expect.

If you bring the food into the Town Hall without making an appointment it may not always be possible to see an officer straight away. In such cases the details maybe taken by one of our clerical staff. You will then be advised as soon as possible, either by phone or in writing of the officer dealing with your complaint.

The action we will take will depend upon whether or not the food was bought in the Barrow Borough Council area.

  • Food bought outside the Borough. After taking the food from you, we will establish which Council should be dealing with the problem and arrange for the transfer of the food. We will then contact you with the details of the Council involved and the officer in charge of the case.
  • Food bought within the Borough. Once we have the food we will decide on the most appropriate course of action. There are often many people involved in supplying an item of food including retailers, wholesalers, importers, packaging companies and manufacturers.

In many cases we need to contact most or even all of these people during the course of an investigation, in order to try and establish exactly what went wrong and at what point in the food chain.

On other occasions the only way to find out what is wrong with the food is to have it analysed by a laboratory. An analysts' report can sometimes tell us if objects found in food have got in before or after manufacture. This is particularly important when trying to decide who is responsible for the complaint.




At the end of an investigation there are a range of options open to the Council ranging from taking no action at all to prosecuting the person or company at fault. The decision on which option is most appropriate will depend upon a number of factors including:

What we cannot do

Seek Compensation

We cannot get your money back or get involved with any claim for damages you may have suffered as a result of purchasing the food. The Council deals exclusively with criminal law and is unable to pursue compensation claims of a civil nature.

Give instant answers

Investigations often take several weeks because of necessary delays caused by waiting for reports from companies, other Councils and/or analysts.

Further Information

For further information please contact the Commercial Services section

Commercial Services Team,
Public Protection
Barrow Town Hall,
Duke Street,
LA14 2LD.

Telephone: 01229 876543.



  1. The nature of the complaint,
  2. Whether there have been other similar complaints,
  3. The measures the offender already has in place to try to prevent such a complaint occurring,
  4. What else he is going to do to try and prevent it happening again.