Food complaints

Problems with food are found in three main ways:

Seeing something out of the ordinary

Looking at food is the most common way of finding something wrong with it, and detects those things wrong which can be seen! These include pieces of plastic, glass or metal in food. Items such as these have the potential to cause harm and should be reported to Telford & Wrekin Council so that an investigation can be conducted to find a cause and prevent recurrence.

Smelling something out of the ordinary

By smelling food it is sometimes possible to sense anything wrong. An 'odd' smell may be caused by a chemical in the food. It is uncommon, but not impossible, for food to be contaminated with substances such as cleaning chemicals. These sorts of problems should be reported to Telford & Wrekin Council so that an investigation can be conducted to find a cause and prevent recurrence.

If a smell suggests to you that food is 'going off', this may be caused by bacterial contamination or faulty packaging. Always check the best before/use by date on the package of 'off' smelling foods, and the information describing storage times and special storage conditions once opened (refrigeration for example). If you notice that a package is damaged in any way (a broken seal for example), this could be the source of a problem when food is 'going off'. When food is bought within its use by or best before date and any storage instructions followed and still something wrong found, the matter should be reported to Telford & Wrekin Council so that an investigation can be conducted to find a cause and prevent recurrence.

Feeling something out of the ordinary

Feeling something in your mouth is probably the most unpleasant way of detecting something wrong with food. These sorts of problems should be reported to Telford & Wrekin Council so that an investigation can be conducted to find a cause and prevent recurrence.

Some food complaints may not be dealt with as things can go wrong with food which have little or no effect on health.

It may be unpleasant to find something wrong with your food, but not all things you might find affect your health. Below are examples of things which can be wrong with food but not harmful.

  • Fruit flies and green flies in fruit and vegetables
    Small flies can be found amongst fruit (fruit flies) or vegetables (greenflies). These types of flies do not carry disease and are not harmful. You may want to contact the food seller.
  • Caterpillars and maggots
    Sometimes these are found in tins of vegetables, in particular in tomatoes or sweetcorn. These grubs are moth larvae. They are killed and sterilised by the canning process and are not harmful. You may want to contact the food seller.
  • Small stones and soil in fruit and vegetables
    Small stones and fragments of soil are often found attached to fruit and vegetables. These types of foods naturally occur in the soil so this is relatively common. If you find stones or soil in fruit or vegetables, it is best just to wash the product thoroughly.
  • Crystals in canned fish
    Crystals which resemble glass are sometimes found in canned fish. The crystals are known as struvite and occur naturally. They do not pose a health risk if swallowed. You can check to see whether they are glass by placing them in vinegar and heating them gently. If they dissolve they are struvite, if they do not then they are possibly glass and you should bring the food in.
  • Crystals in sweet and chocolates
    Sugar crystals are found in sweets and chocolates and can look just like glass. Sugar crystals will dissolve in hot water. If they do not dissolve then they may be glass and you should bring the food in. Sugar crystals are not harmful.
  • Codworm in white fish
    Small, yellow-brown coloured worms can sometimes be found in the flesh of white fish such as cod and haddock. They are killed by cooking and are not harmful.
  • Bakery char in bakery products
    Bakery goods such as bread and cakes sometimes contain small bits of overcooked dough which could resemble rodent droppings. These can be hard or soft and get into bakery goods by falling off previously used baking tins. They are not harmful.
  • Carbonised grease in bakery products
    Some bakery products may have areas which appear dark and greasy. This is carbonised grease which comes from machinery used in the production of bakery goods. The grease is a non-toxic vegetable oil and is not harmful.
  • Chocolate 'mould'
    Chocolate products can sometimes develop light coloured zones which resemble mould. They are not mould and occur if the chocolate is stored at high temperatures. In fact, mould grows on chocolate incredibly rarely. These patches of 'Bloom' as they are known are not harmful. You may want to contact the retailer or manufacturer if you find chocolate bloom.  

Last updated: 4.32pm on Thursday 12 December 2019

  1. Introduction
  2. Identifying a problem
  3. Report a complaint
  4. Contact