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Food safety for customers

Food Hygiene Ratings explained. Advice on reporting food safety issues or making a complaint.

Last updated: 28 March 2022

Our Food Safety Team aims to protect the health of all people by ensuring food and drink on sale locally is safe to consume. We carry out unannounced inspections and respond to complaints and emerging issues.

Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) explained

The scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food and drink by giving you clear information about the businesses’ hygiene standards.

Business ratings for Waltham Forest are published online. And businesses are given a sticker to display in their window.

A business is given one of the six ratings:

  • 5 - Very good
  • 4 - Good
  • 3 - Generally satisfactory
  • 2 - Improvements necessary
  • 1 - Major improvements necessary
  • 0 - Urgent improvement necessary

 

 

Reporting food safety issues

If you have a complaint about food or a food business, we may be able to look into it. However, it may be easier to resolve the issue yourself. .

For us to investigate a complaint, you need 'evidence' including receipts and packaging, plus the food itself where applicable. If not, we may be limited in what action we can take.

Food safety issues we're unlikely to be able to help with

  • where there is no public health risk
  • where a complaint is made anonymously
  • where there is insufficient evidence to support an offence
  • where you no longer have the item concerned
  • where the business has already been asked to investigate
  • where there is a long delay between the problem happening and you telling us about it
  • where you are seeking a refund, a replacement or other compensation.
  • where your complaint is about customer service
  • where the issue relates to ‘best before’ dates. It is not an offence to sell (or use) food after its 'best before' date if it is still of good quality.

Suspected food poisoning

Food poisoning can only be confirmed if a faecal sample is taken at the time of illness and examined for related bacteria or viruses.

If you think you have food poisoning, you should consult your GP. They can arrange for you to submit a stool sample for analysis. If the test results of the faecal samples are positive, this means you do have some form of food poisoning. However, it is very hard to pinpoint where it came from. 

Food poisoning is not necessarily caused by the last food that was eaten. Symptoms can take several hours to several days (or longer) to appear after infection occurs. Other viruses can also cause symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature too.

  • If you are ill after attending an event, where other people have become sick with similar symptoms, contact us immediately using our online form.

Whilst you are symptomatic (for example diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature), you may be infectious to others. Therefore:

  • If your job involves handling food, or working with vulnerable people, you should tell your employer. It is recommended that you avoid handling food for 48 hours after your symptoms have stopped.
  • Take care to wash your hands well this time.