Report food poisoning and hygiene issues

How to report food poisoning if you become ill after eating food supplied by a shop, restaurant or other food outlet.

Report food poisoning or poor food hygiene

We are responsible for making sure that restaurants, and all buildings where food is provided, meet legal standards, whether money is exchanged or not.

You can report cases of food poisoning, or businesses with poor food hygiene, by emailing or by phoning us on 020 3373 7709.

Reporting food safety issues

If you have a complaint about food or a food business, we may be able to look into it. However, it may be easier to resolve the issue yourself.

For us to investigate a complaint, you need 'evidence' including receipts and packaging, plus the food itself where applicable. If not, we may be limited in what action we can take.

Food safety issues we're unlikely to be able to help with

  • where there is no public health risk
  • where a complaint is made anonymously
  • where there is insufficient evidence to support an offence
  • where you no longer have the item concerned
  • where the business has already been asked to investigate
  • where there is a long delay between the problem happening and you telling us about it
  • where you are seeking a refund, a replacement or other compensation.
  • where your complaint is about customer service
  • where the issue relates to ‘best before’ dates. It is not an offence to sell (or use) food after its 'best before' date if it is still of good quality.

Suspected food poisoning

Food poisoning can only be confirmed if a faecal sample is taken at the time of illness and examined for related bacteria or viruses.

If you think you have food poisoning, you should consult your GP. They can arrange for you to submit a stool sample for analysis. If the test results of the faecal samples are positive, this means you do have some form of food poisoning. However, it is very hard to pinpoint where it came from.

Food poisoning is not necessarily caused by the last food that was eaten. Symptoms can take several hours to several days (or longer) to appear after infection occurs. Other viruses can also cause symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature too.

If you are ill after attending an event, where other people have become sick with similar symptoms, contact us immediately.

Whilst you are symptomatic (for example diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature), you may be infectious to others. Therefore:

If your job involves handling food, or working with vulnerable people, you should tell your employer. It is recommended that you avoid handling food for 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.

Take care to wash your hands well this time.

What happens next

When we get a complaint, we investigate the business that sold you the food. If we then inspect the business, we will make sure that the:

  • Food hygiene in the buildings used to store, sell and offer the food meets the standards set by law
  • Quality of food also meets these standards
  • Food suppliers label their food properly.

If the business does not meet legal standards, we can send a letter telling the owner to make specific improvements or in more serious cases we can take legal action.

You can find out more about our inspections on our Food safety inspection page

Food poisoning and contamination

For more information on food poisoning and contamination, go to the Food Standards Agency and the NHS websites