There is a story behind the photo above and it involves complaints.

The story goes like this. A customer opened a can of sweetcorn and found hairs in amongst the sweetcorn. Naturally the customer wasn’t happy, so returned the can to the shop where they had purchased it.

Happy customer. 


Hairy complaint

The complaint was about a foreign body – hair. This required an investigation, so the lab decanted the contents of the can and discovered that the can contained very little sweetcorn and quite a lot of rat!


The rat in this photo isn’t real. The factory investigation came up with the following explanation. The rat had entered the hopper feeding the canning line looking for water and hadn’t been able to escape once inside. There was only one exit from the hopper, and that was into the cans. Needless to say additional checks and cans disposed of at the beginning of any run was instigated immediately.

No further complaints were made of this nature.

 Different types of complaint.

Complaints aren’t always so dramatic. 

A complaint can be received about anything and everything. I would recommend separating out food safety complaints from quality complaints.

Food safety complaints should be reviewed at every HACCP review meeting and trended on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. The frequency depends on how many are being received, and the seriousness of the complaints.

Any unusual trend should be reacted to immediately.

Serious complaints should be investigated by experienced technical experts with access to everybody involved. I would expect members of the management team and owners to be interested in the nature and outcome of complaints as they risk the reputation of the business.

The photos to the right are mock ups of real complaints. 



The elements of a complaint investigation are receipt of complaint details, investigation, assessment, recommendations and reporting and actions to be taken to reduce the risk of this happening again.

Naturally everything must be recorded and kept for review. This website has a good methodology for complaint resolution.


If you need help with complaint investigation, get in touch for a chat. I am always happy to chat through food safety issues and if I can’t help, I can signpost you to someone who can.

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