Complaints about food

In South Australia, food safety in the majority of businesses including supermarkets, fast-food outlets, cafés, restaurants, food trucks, child care centres and food stalls is monitored by local council Environmental Health Officers. Types of complaints that local council may investigate include:

  • suspected food poisoning
  • foreign object in food (packaged or unpackaged)
  • unhygienic food handling, storage, transport or preparation
  • unclean food premises
  • quality issues such as mouldy or rancid food
  • pest/insects in foods or food businesses
  • food sold past its use by date (note: food businesses may sell food past their best before date if they are still safe and suitable).

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. You can find the council's contact details by using the SA councils list & map.

Complaints investigated by SA Health

While most food safety complaints are handled by the local council, some complaints will be handled by SA Health or SA Health and local council. These include complaints about:

  • undeclared allergens in food
  • labelling
  • foreign object in food (packaged or unpackaged)
  • food poisoning (for larger outbreaks)

To lodge a complaint to SA Health please complete the Food Complaints & Enquiries Form.

Please note, any food complaints made to SA Health may be referred to the relevant regulator:

Complaints investigated by other agencies

Butchers and meat processors — 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 if it affects safety of the food) e.g. 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

Food poisoning complaints

If you suspect you have food poisoning please consult a doctor. 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, or log the complaint using the Food Complaints & Enquiries Form.

SA Health complaint process

If you make a complaint to 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; and
  • patterns of similar incidents that suggest ongoing or broader issues.

When making a complaint please provide as much detail as possible about the issue including:

  • a description of the problem
  • name and full street address of the business
  • product name and, if packaged, the size and date on the package
  • photos of the product/packaging/issue (where appropriate)
  • if it is suspected food poisoning:
    • time and date food consumed, and what was eaten
    • time and date illness began, symptoms and their duration

You will be contacted within 10 days if further information about your complaint is needed.

Keeping samples

Food sample testing is often not required however, if you have a food sample, please keep the sample for up to 10 business days. You will be contacted if we require the sample. 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.


SA Health 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.

Further information

For further information contact the Food Safety and Regulation Branch.