Report a food safety or hygiene problem

You can report any serious food hygiene and food safety problems to us at the following address:

Safety and Food Team
Swindon Borough Council
5th Floor
Wat Tyler House
Beckhampton Street

E-mail: foodhealth&
Tel: 01793 466067 or 466056
Fax: 01793 466153

Minor problems need not necessarily be reported however, please check the list of minor problems below.

For more serious problems:

  1. Register your complaint with the business involved.
  2. Then, report the problem to us if you:
  • Think the matter is particularly serious
  • Suspect it is not an isolated incident
  • Still have concerns about the standard of hygiene

On receipt of your report, we will gather all the information and assess what actions and investigations are necessary. Please note however that we do not get involved in disputes about refunds.

List of minor problems

Item Minor problem and risk Action required
Bakery goods

Bread and cakes may contain bits of overcooked dough which has flaked off bakery tins. It does not necessarily indicate poor hygiene although they may be mistaken for rodent droppings which are black and regular torpedo-shaped, whilst bakery char is greyish and uneven in shape.

Risk: no public health risk

Contact manufacturer
 Carbonised grease 

The machinery used to produce bread and cakes is lubricated with a non-toxic vegetable oil. Occasionally, some of this may become incorporated into the dough, giving the product a grey/greasy appearance.

Risk: no public health risk 

Contact the manufacturer

Chocolate may develop a light coloured bloom if stored at too high a temperature. This is not mould but is due to fat separation and is not harmful.

Risk: no public health risk

Return to retailer
Sugar crystals 

Large sugar crystals may form in confectionery and may be mistaken for glass. To test, immerse them in warm water - sugar crystals will dissolve.

Risk: no public health risk if sugar crystals, public health risk if glass 

Contact Food Safety if found to be glass 
Dried foods

Dried products such as flour, sugar and pulses may contain small insects such as psocids (book lice). These do not carry disease, but they are unsightly and can eat through the paper of the packet. They breed very quickly in warm, humid conditions and so spread into uncontaminated food very quickly.

Risk: no public health risk 

Throw away all affected food, clean cupboards with bleach solution (follow advice on bottle) and dry thoroughly. Store new dried foods in airtight containers. Ensure good ventilation in kitchen/store cupboards.

White fish such as cod or haddock may be infested with a small, round brownish/yellow worm caled Codworm, found in the flesh. They are killed by cooking and are harmless to humans. The affected parts of the fish are usually cut away, but some may be missed.

Risk: no public health risk 

Contact the retailer or supplier 
Fruit and vegetables   Mould growth will naturally occur when fruit and vegetables become bruised or damaged. This will be minimised if the buyer checks the produce before purchase and handles it carefully afterwards.  None
Stones, soil and slugs 

Fruit and vegetables commonly have soil, stones or small slugs adhering to them. This is quite normal as they originate from soil.

Risk: no public health risk 

Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating 

Salad vegetables, especially lettuce, may have greenfly attached. This is becoming more common as the use of pesticides decreases, but they are not harmful.

Risk: no public health risk 

Wash all salad items thoroughly before eating 
Meat and poultry

Products made from meat and/or poultry may contain small bones, skin or parts of blood vessels. These are unsightly but rarely a health hazard as they are normal parts of the original animal. They may sometimes cause problems such as a chipped tooth and these are best dealt with by the individual – via the Civil Court if necessary.

Risk: no public health risk

Contact the retailer/manufacturer
Tinned foods

Occasionally, small grubs may be discovered in canned vegetables - expecially sweetcorn and tomatoes. The grubs are the larvae of a moth which live inside the sweetcorn kernal or tomato and are impossible to see before they are processed. Although it isn’t pleasant to find a grub in your food, they are killed and sterilised by the canning process. As the use of pesticides decreases, these types of problem will increase.

Risk: no public health risk

Contact the manufacturer
Wasps and fruit flies

These are naturally associated with fruit and so often found in tins of fruit. They do not carry disease.

Risk: no public health risk

Contact the manufacturer 


Some naturally occurring elements in fish may develop into hard crystals during the canning process. These crystals may be mistaken for glass fragments and are called struvite. They are not harmful and will be broken down by stomach acid if swallowed. Struvite is especially common in tinned salmon and will dissolve if placed in vinegar and gently heated for up to 15-20 minutes (they may not dissolve completely in this time but will reduce in size). Glass will not dissolve.

Risk: no public health risk if struvite; public health risk if glass

If struvite, contact the manufacturer; if glass contact Food Safety

Dented, damaged or incorrectly processed tins may allow mould growth to occur. This could indicate an error in production or storage.

Risk: possible public health risk

Contact Food Safety

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