Complaints about food

In South Australia, the food safety of food businesses such as supermarkets, fast-food outlets, cafés, restaurants, food trucks and food stalls, are looked after by local councils. If you have a complaint about a food business, contact the local council where the business is located and speak to an environmental health officer.

Types of complaints

  • suspected food poisoning
  • foreign object in food (packaged or unpackaged)
  • unhygienic food handling, storage, transport or preparation
  • unclean food premises
  • quality issues such as spoilage (eg mould) rancid, bitter or off flavours
  • pest/ insects in foods or food business
  • food sold past its use by or best before dates.

You can find the council's contact details by using the Local Government Association Council Finder.

About food poisoning complaints

If you suspect you have food poisoning please consult a doctor. In order to confirm your diagnosis the doctor will need to take a stool sample. If food poisoning infection (a notifiable disease) is confirmed, the doctor will report their findings to SA Health's Communicable Diseases Control Branch.

Even if you have been confirmed with a notifiable disease, you may not be contacted unless it is part of an outbreak investigation.

If you have concerns about possible food poisoning where multiple people have been affected you can contact the local council where the food business is located.

Complaints investigated by other agencies

Butchers PIRSA - Biosecurity SA

Dairy products Dairysafe

Misleading labelling (not relating to food safety or health claims) Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

Country of origin   Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

Poor customer service by food businesses Consumer and Business Services

Product warranties Consumer and Business Services

Safety of packaging (other than how it affects safety of the food), eg choking hazards, burn hazards - Consumer and Business Services

Liquor licensing Consumer and Business Services

Weights and measures National Measurement Institute

Waste, pollution, noise or local environment issues Local councils

If in doubt contact the Food and Controlled Drugs Branch.

Complaints investigated by SA Health

While most types of complaints are handled by the local council that the food business is located in, some complaints will be reviewed by SA Health. These include:

  • undeclared allergens in food
  • labelling
  • food poisoning (for larger outbreaks)

The SA Health complaint process

If you make a complaint with SA Health, it will be logged and considered carefully. We will investigate as appropriate, however we give priority to:

  • situations that will, or have the potential to, cause serious harm
  • patterns of similar incidents that suggest ongoing or broader issues.

Please ensure you provide all relevant information about the issue:

  • a description of the problem
  • name and full street address of the business
  • product name, size and, if packaged, the date on the package
  • if it is suspected food poisoning:
    • time and date food consumed, and what was eaten
    • time and date illness began, symptoms and their severity.

You will be contacted within 10 days if further information about your complaint is needed or a food sample is required.

Keeping samples

Food sample testing is often not required. However, if you have a food sample, we would appreciate if you could hold the sample for up to 10 business days.

Please store the sample so it is preserved and not a hazard to other foods or people. This means for:

  • Food poisoning complaints, we suggest to keep the sample inside a plastic bag in a fridge. Please do not freeze the sample.
  • For other complaints, we suggest to keep the sample inside a plastic bag in a freezer (as long as the product won’t deteriorate by being frozen).

Samples are not returned to the complainant and could be destroyed if testing is done.

If we have not contacted you within 10 days, our investigators do not need the sample and you can discard it.


Food and Controlled Drugs Branch

Referral to other agencies

Any complaints made to SA Health may be referred to:


We are usually not able to provide details of the progress and outcome of an investigation.

This information remains confidential in case of any subsequent enforcement proceedings.

Legal advice and compensation

We are unable to act on behalf of complainants for reimbursement of the cost of the food, compensation or damages. SA Health cannot provide legal advice.