Find out what to do if you have purchased or eaten food which you have found unsatisfactory.

All food sold in the UK is subject to the standards laid down in the Food Safety Act 1990. Although it can be distressing to find something wrong with a food item you have purchased, not all food complaints pose a serious risk to public health.

Officers from Environmental Services will investigate all food complaints purchased in Wolverhampton which present a public health risk and/or where it is likely that an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990 has been committed with a realistic chance of prosecution.

If the complaint is purchased outside Wolverhampton, it will usually be dealt with by the Local Authority in whose area it was purchased although assistance can be given in arranging its transfer to the appropriate authority. Complaints about imported foodstuffs, manufactured and packed abroad, are unlikely to result in enforcement action in circumstances where it would be unreasonable to expect the importer to exercise greater diligence. For minor complaints about imported food we would suggest that you contact the importer or manufacturer whose details should be on the label. Imported food complaints which present a health risk would be investigated but this can take considerable time and may not result in formal action.

Below (or attached) contains examples of the more common food complaints which have little or no public health risk. It explains the best course of action to take should you discover that type of complaint.

For further advice about food complaints or any other food safety matter contact Customer Services


Mould growth will occur naturally on fruit and vegetables which have become bruised or damaged - so do check produce carefully before selecting and handle it carefully afterwards.

Mould growth on most other foods may present a health risk and should be reported to Environmental Health as soon as possible after purchase. Mould occasionally occurs when sealed cartons or cans become damaged allowing air to enter the carton or can which encourages mould growth. Although it is often difficult to determine at what point the damage occurred, checks with the manufacturer and/or retailer will be made to ascertain if there has been a processing fault affecting a whole batch or if the problem is a one-off affecting only a single item which may have become damaged after processing.

Best before/use by dates

The sale of a food item after its use-by-date is an offence and should be reported to Environmental Services. Use-by-dates are usually found only on highly perishable foods which can rapidly deteriorate after the date has expired.

Best before dates are found on food items which have a longer shelf life. It is not an offence to sell a food item past its best before date. However if the item is unsatisfactory, for example stale, mouldy or otherwise of poor quality then an offence may have been committed and you should contact the food businesses and safety team


Typical Foods

Description and Cause

Best Course of Action


Fresh fruit and vegetables

Small insects e.g. greenfly, fruit flies, wasps and grubs.

They are not harmful to health and should be removed during the washing of the food.



Canned or frozen fruit and vegetables especially sweetcorn and tomatoes

Small grubs which are the larval stage (young stage) of a moth. They are difficult to detect during the processing as they live inside the fruit or vegetable. Snail shells are occasionally found in peas and are sometimes difficult to detect during processing.

They are not harmful to health and should be removed during the washing of the food.

They are harmless to health as they have been killed during the canning and freezing process. You may wish to notify the manufacturer, packer or retailer whose name and address will be on the label.



Canned fish especially salmon and tuna

Small, hard crystals which resemble glass. It is caused by a natural reaction between fish and salt during the brining process of canning. It is not harmful and will be dissolved by stomach acids.

Carry out this simple test. Place the crystals in warm water or vinegar and heat. Struvite crystals will dissolve; glass will not.


If Struvite - contact manufacturer.


If Glass - contact Environmental Health.



Bread and cakes

Grey or black pieces of overcooked dough which have flaked off baking trays. This is sometimes mistaken for rodent droppings. Rodent droppings are a regular torpedo shape whereas bakery char comes in uneven shapes.


Bakery 'Char is not harmful to health. You may wish to inform the manufacturer who should take their own action to decarbonise baking trays.

PSOCIDS (Book Lice)

Flour, grain, sugar, pulses

These are tiny brown insects which breed rapidly in warm, dark, humid conditions. They will rapidly invade any new packets of food placed in affected cupboards and can readily eat through the packaging.

These are a domestic pest and are rarely found commercially. It is virtually impossible to determine where the infestation started. If you find book lice
-  discard all affected
-  clean cupboards
   thoroughly including
   all cracks and crevices
-  store all new dried
   goods in airtight
-  ensure good ventilation
   in food areas.



Typical Foods

Description and Cause

Best Course of Action


White fish e.g. cod, haddock or fish products

Small, round brown/yellow worms found inside the flesh. The affected part is usually cut away but some may be overlooked. They are harmless to humans

Cod worms are not harmful to human health but you may wish to report their discovery to the retailer or manufacturer of fish product.



Chocolate and chocolate products

A light coloured bloom may develop on the surface of chocolate, especially in warmer weather. It is due to fat separation and is sometimes mistaken for mould.


Chocolate bloom is not harmful and the product is safe to consume. However the retailer may replace the product if you return it, although he is not necessarily obliged to do so.


Confectionery/ jams etc

Large white sugar crystals which can be mistaken for glass.


Crystals will dissolve in warm water, glass.

If crystals - there is no health risk and you

do not need to take any further action.

If glass - refer to Environmental Health.



Products made from meat, poultry or fish

Small bones, skin, hide or parts of blood vessels, although unwelcome, are normal parts of the original animal.


There is no risk to health, although there may be personal inconvenience e.g. a chipped tooth or physical injury from a sharp bone, The Local Authority cannot pursue claims for damages which are best dealt with by the individual, if necessary with the assistance of the Civil Courts. You are recommended to contact the manufacturer.



Fresh vegetables, occasionally in frozen or canned vegetables

Small sticks and stones may originate from the soil in which vegetables are grown.


For raw fruit and vegetables - thoroughly wash before consuming.

For frozen or canned fruit or vegetables - refer to manufacturer whose details you will normally find on the label.