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Report a food safety issue

If you have a concern about a food product or a food business, you can make a complaint or seek advice from the relevant government agency.

Roles and responsibilities

Who to contact for different types of issues

Call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) about:

  • food-borne illness, contamination of food and food recalls
  • product labelling and food composition (e.g. not declaring presence of nuts)
  • food safety issues at a Queensland Government facility (e.g. public hospitals, state schools).

Contact your local council about:

  • food safety and hygiene issues at a retail food business (e.g. takeaway food and restaurants)
  • foreign matter in food (e.g. insect, Band-Aid)
  • wholesale and retail food distribution (e.g. rat infestation in a warehouse)
  • food safety issues at a manufacturing premises (other than dairy, meat and seafood).

This customer complaint form will help make sure you give the council the information they need.

Contact Safe Food Production Queensland on 1800 300 815 about:

  • storage and transportation of raw meat and seafood
  • food safety in a retail butcher or smallgoods shop
  • food safety issues at a business that manufactures or processes dairy, meat and seafood products
  • production and processing of eggs.

Contact the Therapeutic Goods Administration about:

Food business responsibilities

If a customer says that they have become ill from eating food from a food business, the business should:

  • suggest that the customer see a doctor for any necessary treatment
  • remove any suspect food from sale
  • contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

If a staff member reports that they may be suffering a foodborne illness, it is important that they do not handle food until 48 hours after their last symptom.

Food poisoning

If you suspect that you may have become ill from food, you should:

  • consult a doctor
  • refrigerate any remaining food for testing and keep the packaging if possible
  • advise the food business of the illness, including the type of food eaten, so they can deal with any remaining suspected food
  • report the issue to 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84), particularly if another person has similar symptoms after eating the same food.

If someone else has similar symptoms after eating the same food, you should encourage them to consult a doctor and lodge their own complaint with 13 HEALTH for investigation.

Concerns about a food business

Food businesses need to be licensed to ensure that food handlers have adequate skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene and that the business has the necessary equipment to handle, store and transport food safely.

Food business licensing

Licensed food businesses are required by law to display their licence or a copy of their licence in a prominent position at the premises so it is easily visible. The term of the licence is stated on the licence so you can see if the licence is current.

Some low‐risk food businesses don’t need a licence, although they are still required to comply with the food laws. Contact your local government to find out whether a particular type of food business needs a licence.

Only local government environmental health officers can take any action if a business is not correctly licensed. If you suspect a business should have a licence, or the licence is not clearly visible notify your local government with the following details:

  • business/trading name
  • address/location
  • types of food sold
  • day and time they were operating
  • vehicle registration, if it is a mobile food business.

Intentional contamination of food

If you suspect a food product has been intentionally contaminated, report it to 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Signs of potentially unsafe food

Often food that can make us sick may still look, smell and taste normal, particularly if it has not been stored correctly.

  • Avoid food that does not look, smell or taste as it should.
  • Compare packaging that looks damaged or different to other containers of the same food.
  • Avoid food products if the packaging is open or damaged.
  • Check that the plastic seal around the outside of a container is intact or the safety button on the lid of a jar/bottle is down.
  • Do not buy or eat foods that have passed the ‘use by’ date (‘best before’ dates are a guide to the quality of food, not necessarily whether they are safe).
  • Avoid buying food products that are damaged or that look unusual (e.g. cans that are leaking or bulge at the ends, products that appear to have been thawed and then refrozen).

More information

Read more about Food safety complaints.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
21 September 2016

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