Food safety complaints
The NSW Food Authority works with local councils to help ensure that food sold to NSW consumers is safe and correctly labelled.
We welcome your complaints as they help us and councils to better understand your concerns as well as raise the food industry’s awareness of its responsibility for the wellbeing of all consumers.
Common types of food complaints include reports of:
- suspected food poisoning
- unhygienic or incorrect food handling, storage, transport or preparation
- foreign matter in food
- allergens not listed in ingredients
- allergens served in food when a declaration has been made
- misleading or incomplete labelling
- unsuitable or unsafe ingredients
- unlicensed sale or serving of food.
The Food Authority or local councils may not be able to deal with complaints where:
- they are not about food for sale
- insufficient information is provided
- they are vengeful or not made in good faith.
Complaints investigated by other organisations
Some issues are investigated by other organisations even if they involve food such as:
|Poor customer service by food businesses
Safety of packaging (other than how it affects the safety of the food), eg. choking hazards, burn hazards)
|NSW Fair Trading|
|Weights and measures||National Measurement Institute|
|Waste, pollution, noise or local environment issues||Local council for the business|
|Food Standards Code: current provisions and requests to change||Food Standards Australia and New Zealand|
|Nutrition and healthy eating||Your medical practitioner or NSW local health service|
|Liquor licensing||Liquor & Gaming NSW|
To make a food safety complaint
The Food Authority and local councils refer complaints to each other depending on which is the most appropriate organisation to deal with a complaint.
||The local council where the food business is located.|
The Food Authority:
Our complaint process
Although we cannot conduct site inspections for every complaint we receive, the Food Authority works to achieve the best outcome for consumer safety.
Each complaint to the Food Authority is logged and considered carefully. We will investigate as appropriate.
We give priority to:
- situations that will, or have the potential to, cause serious harm
- patterns of similar incidents that suggest ongoing or broader issues.
Information you need to provide
So we can assess your complaint we need:
- a description of the problem
- name and full street address of the business
- product name, size and, if packaged, the date on the package
- if it is suspected food poisoning:
- time and date food consumed, and what was eaten
- time and date illness began, symptoms and their severity.
Please keep any leftover food, packaging and receipts.
Food poisoning is a highly complex area. These reports are monitored by a specialist team to identify any patterns and, if appropriate, investigate.
If there are complaints about the same type of food, food business or group of people who feel unwell the Food Authority may investigate further.
For more details see our food poisoning information.
If you feel unwell please seek medical attention.
If you have a food sample, we would appreciate if you could hold the sample for up to 10 business days. Food sample testing is often not required however.
Please store the sample so it is preserved and not a hazard to other foods or people. This means for:
- food poisoning complaints, we suggest to keep the sample inside a plastic bag in a fridge. Please do not freeze the sample
- for other complaints, we suggest to keep the sample inside a plastic bag in a freezer (as long as the product won’t deteriorate by being frozen).
Samples are not returned to the complainant and could be destroyed if testing is done.
If we have not contacted you within 10 days, our investigators do not need the sample and you can discard it.
We respect your right to privacy and confidentiality in making a food complaint.
Under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW), and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) the Food Authority does not disclose the personal details of people making complaints to the food business involved, unless ordered by a court.
For more details see access to personal information.
Referral to other agencies
The Food Authority may refer complaints to:
- local councils
- NSW Health
- interstate regulatory agencies.
If your complaint is referred to a local council or interstate, we will let you know and offer contact details for any follow-up.
We are usually not able to provide details of the progress and outcome of an investigation.
This information remains confidential in case of any subsequent enforcement proceedings.
For more details about access to information held by the Food Authority see access to information.
Damages & compensation
The Food Authority has the power to administer and encourage compliance with the Food Act 2003.
We are unable to act on behalf of complainants for reimbursement of the cost of the food, compensation or damages.
The Food Authority cannot provide legal advice.
Complaints about the Food Authority
If your complaint is about the Food Authority’s staff or services see complaints about the NSW Food Authority.
Please contact the Food Authority on 1300 552 406 if you have any further questions.