Food Safety & hygiene

Page updated on: 17/08/2022

No matter how good a manufacturer of food is, sometimes things can go wrong. More often than not these will be addressed by the manufacturer before it reaches the public, resulting in product recall notices, allergy alerts or food hazard warnings. There are many common food complaints that do not pose a risk to public health.

We only investigate complaints regarding items purchased within Carmarthenshire which are considered to be of public health significance, including items that:

  • are unfit to eat
  • could cause ill health
  • are contaminated with foreign matter.

We do not investigate the following issues, you will need to contact the manufacturer or retailer direct:

  • You are not satisfied with the product
  • You want a refund
  • The complaint is not a serious matter, for example soil on vegetables
  • You are unsure of the place of purchase
  • You are unsure whether you have stored it appropriately.

Before submitting your complaint read the label and check if you have followed the instructions and used the food within the date on the label.

You will need to:

  • Keep the food
  • Keep all wrapping
  • Place the food in a freezer
  • Keep a copy of the receipt
  • Ensure there is enough food left for sampling
  • Be prepared to provide a witness statement
  • Be prepared to give evidence in court

If the complaint has originated in Carmarthenshire, we will visit the premises to investigate your complaint. We will look at the condition of the food rooms, assess food hygiene practices, take temperature recordings and where necessary, take samples of food for examination. We also check that paperwork is up-to-date. Any findings will be discussed with you, as the complainant, and you will be advised if further legal action will be taken. Upon completion of our investigation, you will receive notification of the outcome. When making a complaint you may remain anonymous, but please note that we are unable to take formal action or provide any feedback without your name and address.

Formal action will only be considered when:

  • There is a genuine public health risk
  • The manufacturer has not satisfied us with a reasonable defence as to why the incident occurred
  • There is a robust chain of evidence
  • The proposed action is in accordance with our Council’s Enforcement Policy.

If we decide to take formal action, we will ask you to provide a witness statement and ask if you will be prepared to give evidence in court. If we do not decide to take formal action we will notify you and ask if you wish your details to be released to the responsible company who may, in turn, wish to contact you directly.

Investigating food complaints can often be time consuming and quite lengthy. We have to give manufacturers the opportunity to provide an explanation as to how the problem may have occurred. If the manufacturer is based outside Carmarthenshire, we will also contact the local authority where they are located and ask them to provide us with information about the manufacturer. For food produced outside the UK, investigation times will be considerably longer.

Our investigation will commence within 10 working days of it being reported.

Our priority is public health so we cannot act on your behalf to claim compensation. To undertake the compensation process, you will need to seek independent advice.