Food complaints

Our Health Protection team can investigate complaints about food purchased, manufactured or given away free within North Northamptonshire. We can also investigate complaints regarding the conditions, standards and hygiene of food premises within the area.


The types of complaints that we can deal with include:

  • foreign bodies in food (this could include insects, pieces of glass, plastic, metal or other substances)
  • food that has 'gone off' 
  • food that has caused food poisoning.

Not what you last ate

It may not have been the last food eaten by you that has caused your illness. Most bacteria have an incubation time of around 12 to 72 hours after eating before causing food poisoning symptoms. The culprit could be food that was eaten either the previous day, or up to three days before. It can even be food eaten as long as a week to ten days before symptoms developed.

Some viruses can also cause vomiting or diarrhoea, which can appear to be food poisoning. The virus is caught from infected people in the same way a cold can be passed from person to person. These are often referred to as Norovirus or viral gastrointestinal infections.

Food poisoning

If you believe you have food poisoning, you should contact your GP as soon as possible who can arrange for you to supply a stool sample. This will confirm if your illness is the result of bacterial food poisoning.

Bacterial food poisoning is a notifiable disease. This means the laboratory will notify the council and you may be contacted by us. 


We cannot obtain any compensation for you or a refund. That is a civil matter between you and the food business.


If making a complaint about food, we will need to know:

  • when and where the food was bought
  • what is wrong with the product and how the problem was found
  • the condition and type of packaging
  • what you did with the food after purchase, before discovering the complaint condition

If the food didn't originate from our area, we will usually contact the council where the food was produced. These cases can take a little longer to investigate than a case involving food produced within North Northamptonshire.

We will not be able to return the food to you once it has been surrendered to us for our investigation.

Not all investigations will result in the prosecution of the food business or manufacturer, even if an offence has been committed, but if a prosecution does take place, you should be prepared to make a statement and possibly attend court.

Please select the area where you got the food:

If your area isn't listed, you may be a resident of West Northamptonshire.

Last updated 28 June 2023