Food authorities don’t just dispense food safety advice to food businesses and regulates the food industry, they also investigate complaints about food or food businesses.
The state and territory food authorities partner with local councils to ensure high standards of food safety are maintained and make sure that the food industry is aware of its responsibility to consumers.
Complaints from customers are a big way for food authorities to identify businesses who are in breach of the Food Safety Act; however, Environmental Health Officers will annually audit every business in Australia.
Food Safety Complaints That Can Be Investigated
Complaints that can be investigated include:
- Allegations of food poisoning (foodborne illness)
- Foreign matter in food
- Misleading or incomplete labelling
- Illegal sales or serving of food
- Incorrect or unhygienic food handling, storage, transport and preparation
- Spoilage of packaged or fresh food
- Unsuitable or unsafe ingredients
The NSW Food Authority and NSW local councils refer complaints to each other depending on the nature and seriousness of the breach, and which organisation is best equipped to handle the complaint. Complaints about a local food business are best directed to and handled by your local council.
The NSW Food Authority monitors food poisoning complaints to identify recurring patterns, including whether the poisoning complaints involve a certain type of food, a certain food business, or group of people linked to a certain location. In these cases, the Authority may investigate further. People who are suspected victims of food poisoning should make it a priority to seek medical attention.
Food Safety Complaints That Will Not Be Investigated
The NSW Food Authority, in alliance with local councils, will not investigate:
- Unrelated complaints (complaints not related to food for sale or food businesses)
- Frivolous, vexatious or vengeful complaints, or complaints not made in good faith
- Complaints that do not supply enough information about the possible breach
Is Your Complaint Not On The Above List?
If you have complaints about one of the following, contact the suggested authority on the matter:
- Poor customer service (seek out NSW Fair Trading to address this complaint)
- Product warranties (direct your complaint to NSW Fair Trading)
- Weight and measurement issues (these are the responsibility of the National Measurement Institute)
- Nutrition and healthy eating (contact a medical advisor or NSW Health Local Health District)
- Liquor licensing (notify the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing)
- Noise or local environment issues (advise your local council instead)
- Issues relating to the Food Standards Code (contact Food Standards Australia and New Zealand)