Food Safety

Food Complaints Procedure

Although our suppliers must continually meet strict standards, occasionally an issue may arise with a product you receive. All food complaints must be recorded on the NHS Supply Chain Food Complaint Reporting Form and emailed to:

See our Downloads ▼ section to download the NHS Supply Chain Food Complaint Reporting Form.

Top Tips!

  • It is the Catering Manager’s responsibility to ensure their trust procurement department is informed.
  • The complainant should not contact the suppliers directly. Management of complaints is dealt with through Support, Training and Services (STS).
  • The Food Complaint Reporting Form should include as much information as possible.
  • Where there is no batch number / best before date or any other indication of the relevant batch then it may not be possible to process the complaint and resultant investigations and responses may be limited.
  • If a complaint relates to a meal containing ingredients from various sources then it may not be possible to process the complaint to its source.
  • The subject of the complaint and the relevant packaging should be kept by the complainant in a suitable container for inspection by the supplier if required as part of the investigation.The item should be clearly labelled ‘FOOD COMPLAINT – NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION’.
  • Where possible the item should be kept frozen.
  • The item should be retained for 28 days before being disposed of unless the complainant is contacted to instruct otherwise.

Support, Training and Services Ltd

NHS Supply Chain works with STS to carry out all food supplier assessments and to manage product complaints. STS are UKAS accredited.

Supplier Assessments

It is a requirement of award to the NHS Supply Chain Fresh Food Framework Agreement that all suppliers (whether distributors or manufacturers) achieve ‘Approved Supplier’ status from NHS Supply Chain’s appointed Certification Body: STS. Suppliers must hold this for the term of the Framework Agreement. Suppliers are audited at least annually and are required to hold certification to one or more of the following standards accepted by STS:

  • BRCGS Global Standard for Food Safety
  • BRCGS Global Standard for Storage and Distribution
  • BRCGS Global Standard for Agents and Brokers
  • FSC22000.
  • STS Code of Practice and Technical Standard for Food Suppliers and Distributors
  • STS Code of Practice for Manufacture, Distribution and Supply of Food Ingredients by Small, Local or Regional Suppliers (small and micro low-risk suppliers only)
  • Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) only.

Revisions to these standards may occur during the life of the framework agreement.

See our Downloads ▼ section to view a copy of the STS Code of Practice and Technical Standard for Suppliers to the Public Sector.

In analysing incoming complaints STS can monitor complaints and manage the complaints process. A decision to hold or withdraw the product will be communicated by NHS Supply Chain to warehouse depots, the supplier, Trust Procurement Managers and Catering Managers to cascade as appropriate. At the conclusion of the investigation a final communication will advise whether the product should be disposed of, returned or that the product is safe to use.

When food is suspected of causing food borne illness or food poisoning, local Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) should also be contacted as soon as possible by the complainant. Where an EHO is involved and wishes to take over the investigation, then STS will not continue to investigate the complaint, but a copy of the outcome must be sent to STS to retain on the suppliers file for audit purposes.

The supplier is required to give an indication of the time that it will take for them to give a response to the complaint. Suppliers are automatically contacted if they have not replied within that time period and will be repeatedly chased by STS if an answer is not forthcoming.

The supplier should be given the opportunity to examine any foreign body, product or packaging to facilitate a full investigation. The decision to release the product lies with the reporting authority. If the product is released the complainant should obtain a full descriptive receipt. All complaints will be progressed to a final response from the supplier.

Downloads ▼

  • Food Complaint Form

    Download the NHS Supply Chain Food Complaint Reporting Form.
  • STS Code of Practice & Technical Standard for Suppliers

    Code of Practice and Technical Standard for Food Processors and Suppliers to the Public Sector.