Food complaints and recalls

Registration and inspection of food premises

Most food businesses must be registered by Council under Victorian food safety laws to ensure the food they cook and sell is safe to eat.

Before Council registers a food business, including temporary and mobile food businesses, Council inspects the premises to make sure all requirements and standards of the Food Act 1984 are met. 

Council Environmental Health Officers also inspect registered premises regularly to make sure standards are maintained. 

Report food poisoning or a food safety issue

Report suspected food poisoning

Council investigates complaints about suspected food poisoning at food premises in Merri-bek.

Phone Council on 9240 1111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to report suspected food poisoning from a food premises in Merri-bek. A Council Environmental Health Officer will investigate your report.

Any remaining suspect food or packaging should be kept refrigerated for analysis.

If you have symptoms of food poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhoea or stomach cramps, Council recommends that you see your doctor, who may suggest a faecal test. Tests on a faecal sample can help indicate what made you sick and assist the investigation.

Report a food hygiene or safety issue

Council also investigates food safety complaints about food hygiene, foreign object contamination and poor food handling at food premises in Merri-bek.

When you make a food complaint, Council will let you know the outcome and hopefully prevent it from happening again.

Common complaints are:

  • foreign object in a food that should not be there, for example a bug or a piece of wood, metal or plastic
  • food that cannot be eaten because it is unfit for human use, for example, mouldy or rotten food
  • damaged food containers
  • packaged foods without proper labelling, for example, best before date, use by dates, nutritional information and country of origin.
  • unclean food businesses, for example, dirty food preparation surfaces, uncontained rubbish, rat or mice droppings or cockroaches on the premises, and
  • poor or questionable food handling procedures.

How to make a food safety complaint to Council

Contact Council and describe the details of the food safety problem, including:

  • what you ate, bought or saw
  • where: name and address
  • when: date and time that you ate, bought food or observed a problem, and
  • any other relevant details, for example, a description of person who served you if the complaint relates to food handling.

Council will investigate your complaint. Your complaint is confidential and we will keep you informed on the progress of the investigation.

Food businesses not governed by Council

Some food businesses are not governed by Council.

Complaints related to meat and poultry processing facilities and seafood businesses, such as butchers, fresh chicken shops and fishmongers, should be directed to PrimeSafe

Complaints related to dairy foods should be directed to Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

Health warnings

The Victorian Chief Health Officer issues health warnings when a food product is deemed unsafe for consumption.

Food recalls

If the Department of Health determines that a food is unsafe, it can recall that food and order that it be removed from distribution, sale and consumption.

A food recall may occur because of a report or complaint from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, government or consumers. It may also occur as a result of a food business conducting internal testing and auditing. The reason for a recall can include:

  • microbiological or chemical contamination
  • presence of foreign matter
  • labelling errors and packaging defects, or
  • undeclared allergens.

The Department of Health informs Council about foods that need to be recalled. Council contacts businesses that use or sell the recalled food and ensure that it is not used and is removed from sale.

Food businesses involved in a food recall must carefully follow instructions from Council and the Department of Health for the removal of food from their shelves. The Department of Health and Food Standards Australia New Zealand have more information about food recalls.

Food safety inspections and sampling

Council’s Environmental Health Officers inspect registered food premises to make sure food safety standards are being maintained. This includes food manufacturers, supermarkets, takeaway outlets, childcare centres, food stalls at festivals, food vehicles, school canteens, and pubs and clubs.

Council has a food sampling program where Environmental Health Officers submit food from premises in Merri-bek for analysis. The food is analysed to check food safety and compliance with regulations and standards.