General policy on complaint investigations
The food and workplace safety team at Ealing Council has around 4,000 food businesses and receives around 1,500 enquiries and complaints each financial year. These enquiries relate to a wide range of issues including potentially unsafe food, complaints about hygiene standards within a food premises, and complaints about food standards and labelling.
Due to limited human and financial resources, priority must therefore be given to complaints with the following:
- there is evidence of serious and significant risk to public health
- there is a suggestion of fraudulent practices
- the food premises have a history of non-compliance with food safety legislation
The council will give a response to all complaints and a desktop review and risk assessment will always be carried out, but any decision of further investigation will be based on professional judgement by the duty officer, or where appropriate, the food and workplace safety team leader.
On-site investigations will generally be carried out where:
- there is a history of non-compliance within the business
- routine food safety or food hygiene interventions are due
- there has been a history of similar complaints
- the food-related illness has been microbiologically confirmed
- the complaint is particularly serious in nature
- there is an element of fraud
Some on-site investigations may be deferred until the next routine inspection eg labelling complaints which do not pose food safety concerns.
On-site investigations will generally not be carried out in the following circumstances:
- single allegations of food-related illness
- hygiene complaints where there is a good history of compliance and the premises are not overdue for interventions
- complaints where the issue concerned does not represent a breach of legal requirements
If you would like to make a complaint about a food business please see our step-by-step process.