Safety and first aid

Reporting food safety offences

If you think that you have become ill after eating out and the symptoms are severe – or if the ill person is very young, very old, or has a weakened immune system – seek medical advice immediately.

You should also report your illness to the environmental health officer in the local government area where the food business is located. Environmental health officers investigate food safety concerns and can take action against those who break food safety laws. Your complaint may also help protect other people in the community from the same health and safety risks.

Find contact details for your local government area (external site). If you think a certain food is to blame, keep the food wrapped in the fridge so a sample can be tested by the local government.

People often blame the last meal they ate before they became ill but this is often not the case.

Illness can occur within an hour to many days and weeks after you eat contaminated food, depending on what type of bacteria was in the food.

The local government environmental health officer will need the following information to investigate your complaint:

  • when you think the contaminated food was eaten
  • the name and full street address of the food business, or event where you think you or others ate the contaminated food
  • the symptoms of anyone who has become ill and when they first started to feel unwell
  • the food or foods you think have made you or others unwell, along with other foods eaten at the same time (including dips and sauces)
  • if there is any left over food, as sometimes this may need to be tested if an officer determines this is warranted
  • if you, or anyone who has become ill, sought medical attention and submitted faecal specimens to a GP.

What if the food business is interstate?

If your complaint involves a food product from another state, it will first need to be investigated by the local government where the food was sold.

For example, if you had an issue with a packet of chocolate you purchased from a grocery store (but the product was manufactured in another state), then the grocery store will need to be investigated first to determine if issue was a result of the product being sold at the grocery store.

After this initial local investigation has commenced, the investigation may be referred to the relevant authority in the other state.

If you are unsure as to who to contact, speak to the Food Unit within the Department of Health. They can refer the complaint to the appropriate agency.

Remember

  • Do not eat food if you think it may be unsafe to do so.
  • If you think a certain food is to blame, keep the food wrapped in the fridge so it can be tested.

Acknowledgements
Food Unit, Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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