Report a food safety or hygiene complaint

We monitor food safety and food hygiene issues in the borough and take appropriate action where necessary.

Food hygiene

Food hygiene incorporates:

  • aspects of food microbiology
  • premises used for food trade, ranging from manufacture to retail or storage
  • practices used in the storage, production, service or sale of food items. This also includes the people involved with food either preparation, handling and distributing or service and sale

Food standards

Food standards, or food safety, is the trading standards element of food. It includes: 

  • dates and durability of food - ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates 
  • labelling of food items - wording, quantities, clarity 
  • ingredients and composition of food - declaration of ingredients, allergen information 
  • quality of food and unfit food 
  • claims and marketing or advertising wording relating to food 
  • descriptions and true names of foods 
  • food fraud 
  • imported foods

Reporting a problem

You can contact us about problems relating to food hygiene and food standards/safety.

The information below shows the types of problem we handle and links to the relevant contact forms.

We cannot necessarily deal with all reports made to us, but the information we receive may still be useful for consideration at the business' next food hygiene inspection. How we investigate complaints depends upon the type of complaint and whether we have received other similar complaints.

The report forms are designed to provide further information depending on the nature of your complaint in the event we are unable to deal with it in Swindon.

We cannot get you a refund for your food or get involved in any compensation claims.

Problems with a food product, such as something in the food that shouldn’t be there. 

Examples include: 

  • a foreign object found in the food (glass, mould, hair, insects etc) 
  • food that appears to be contaminated with chemicals 
  • food that has been provided with visible signs of mould or decay. 

Please note there can be naturally occurring issues with certain foods that may make the food look less appetising, but these are not necessarily a risk to health.  

More information about common complaints and how they may be dealt with: Common food complaints (PDF)

Report a problem with a food product


Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food. Symptoms usually begin within 2 to 5 days after eating contaminated food, although they may start at any point between a few hours and several weeks later.

The symptoms of food poisoning can be very similar to other illnesses, making it difficult to confirm the cause. If food poisoning is suspected we recommend submitting a stool sample through a GP to assist with diagnosing the cause.

Further information about symptoms of food poisoning: NHS website - Food poisoning

We use the information reported to us to help monitor possible issues in Swindon and to identify potential sources of food poisoning.

Report suspected food poisoning

What to do if you have food poisoning

If you are ill and your job involves handling food or you are working in health care or are a nursery worker, you must contact us and not return to work until you are symptom-free for 48 hours. In some cases you may be excluded from work, school or we may ask children attending nurseries and childminders to stop going. We will let you know if this is necessary.

You must inform your employer of your symptoms.

Parents or guardians of children aged under five years or children or adults unable to implement good standards of personal hygiene, are advised to keep them away from school or other establishments until they have also been symptom-free for 48 hours.

If you are suffering from food poisoning you must try to avoid spreading the problem to others.

For medical advice you must contact your doctor.

Passing it on

The germs that can cause food poisoning are easily passed from person to person when you go to the toilet. Even when using toilet paper you can pass them on when you touch the toilet seat, the flush handle, taps, food utensils and food itself. Others touching these items could then pick up the bug and could become ill.

The risk of passing it to other people is greater when people are handling food, involved in health care, are in nurseries, schools and playgroups and in hospitals, due to the close person to person contact and because they are sharing facilities. Good personal hygiene will help prevent the spread of the food poisoning bacteria.

Hand washing

Always wash your hands after going to the toilet, whether toilet paper is used or not. Always wash hands before handling food, handling food utensils (cutlery or crockery) and feeding young children. Children should be supervised when going to the toilet and when washing their hands.

Food preparation

Do not prepare food if you are suffering from food poisoning. You must be symptom free for 48 hours before handling food.

Hand drying

Individual disposable paper towels are the best. Communal linen and terry towels should not be used. Mechanical air-drying facilities may also be used.


The following equipment should be disinfected regularly using an appropriate solution:

  • Toilet seats
  • Flush handles
  • Toilet door handles (inside and out)
  • Wash hand basin taps
Further advice and information

If you require more detailed information on a specific illness, visit the website.

Examples include: 

  • labelling of any food item - wording, quantities, clarity 
  • ingredients and composition of food - declaration of ingredients, allergen information 
  • claims and marketing or advertising wording relating to food 
  • descriptions and true names of foods 
  • food fraud 
  • imported foods 

Dates and durability of food - 'use by' and 'best before' dates

It is not illegal to sell food after its 'best before' date. 'Best before' dates mean that the manufacturer guarantees that the food will be of best quality up to that date. After that date, the quality may decline. 'Best before' dates are usually for longer life products.

Report misleading or incorrect food labelling

We use the information reported to us to help monitor poor food safety and hygiene practices at food business in Swindon.

Examples include: 

  • temperature control - keeping cold food cold and hot food hot, suitable refrigerated storage, effective cooking practices 
  • personal hygiene – people involved with food must have a good standard of personal hygiene, clean protective clothes, regular and effective handwashing 
  • cross contamination – practices, raw and ready to eat, equipment 
  • premises in which food is stored, prepared, and handled - condition, cleaning, repair, suitability, pest-free

Report a hygiene or safety concern about a food business


We investigate reports of food waste issues relating to a food business.

More information: Report a food trade waste issue

We investigate reports of food businesses that may not have been legally registered with Swindon Borough Council.

More information: Report an unregistered food business

Taking private action against a company

Your statutory rights are not affected should we take formal action. You may wish to consider withdrawing the complaint from the council and undertaking private legal action. Alternatively, you may take private action upon completion of our investigation, if appropriate. 

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