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 should 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 for food complaints

  • It is the Catering Manager’s responsibility to ensure their trust Procurement department is informed.
  • The completed Food Complaint Reporting Form should include as much information as possible.
  • Where there is no batch no./best before date or any other indication of the relevant batch then it will not be possible to process the complaint.
  • 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’.

Support, Training & Services Ltd (STS)

NHS Supply Chain works with Support, Training & Services Ltd (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: Support, Training & Services Ltd (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 of the following standards accepted by STS:

  • BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Issue 7)
  • BRC Global Standard for Storage & Distribution (Issue 2)
  • BRC Global Standard for Agents & Brokers (Issue 1)
  • STS Code of Practice & Technical Standard for Suppliers to the Public Sector
  • STS Code of Practice for Manufacture, Distribution & Supply of Food Ingredients by Small or Regional Suppliers (small and micro suppliers only)
  • SALSA (small and micro suppliers 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 & Technical Standard for Suppliers to the Public Sector.

In analysing incoming complaints STS can identify potential hazards and decide if a product should be withdrawn or not. 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 should 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 the complaints administrator at 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.