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Food poisoning rights on dodgy sandwiches and takeaways - and how to complain; Shopping for food is such a part of life for us all that we sometimes don't realise that the rights we have when buying a packet of cereal are the same as they are when buying a pair of shoes. Here's what you need to know.

Byline: James Walker

Enjoying a good meal is a fundamental part of everyone's day, no matter whether you like to make your own MasterChef masterpieces or grab a takeout on the way home.

However, in the past year, Resolver has seen a huge increase in complaints about restaurants and takeaways -- over 60,000 cases - and complaints about supermarkets are edging ever-higher too.

Shopping for food is such a part of life for us all that we sometimes don't realise that the rights we have when buying a packet of cereal are the same as they are when buying a pair of shoes.

In theory, when returning any item -- including food -- you have lots of rights regardless of whether the goods or services were bought in store or online, thanks to the Consumer Rights Act.

The act covers loads of things, but the important bit says you have the right to reject something if it's faulty within 30 days of buying it and get a refund.

However, the one exception to this is goods that are likely to perish within 30 days, when the time limit changes to become the date the item is expected to perish. This is usually the use-by date for food.

As long as you stick to these timescales, you're entitled to a full refund. You still have some rights after 30 days but they're not as strong.

How long you can really keep eggs, cheese and bread for before they go 'off'

If you find something unexpected (or disturbing) in your food then you can expect a written apology a refund and some compensation.

However, don't start booking that holiday or paying off your mortgage just yet.

Big businesses like supermarkets are stingy when it comes to dodgy items that have found their way in to products where they shouldn't be.

The norm seems to be a voucher around the [pounds sterling]10 to [pounds sterling]20 mark though some higher amounts are offered where there's some negative publicity in the media. But even then, it's rarely over [pounds sterling]100.

If you want to take things further, the options are limited. You can report a shop or restaurant to your local Trading Standards or Environmental Health Officer. But this won't help with your individual complaint.

One of the best tactics is to sit down with the manager and explain the impact on you and your family and ask them to reflect that in the offer. Failing that, you'd need to take the business to court.

A good meal often comes down to the individual taste and preference of each diner.

What works for some doesn't work for others as any restaurant review will tell you.

There's nothing wrong with preferring a full English or a Cordon Bleu experience. You have minimum expectations and you want them to be met. But you can't have your cake and eat it, so to speak. If you've eaten the meal, you won't get far complaining that it wasn't what you wanted afterwards!

When it comes to your rights, restaurants, and takeaways fall under the category of service-based industries, which is a pretty broad definition and covers a diverse range of businesses.

The law that is generally considered to be the one that gives you most rights is the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. The act states that you should expect the 'services' to be carried out with reasonable care and skill within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. That's a lot of 'reasonableness!'

The important thing is if you feel you've not got the service, food, or anything else the restaurant led you to believe you would get, then, in theory, you can complain.

'A human fingernail in a vegetarian sausage' - worst food complaints and what to do if it happens to you

It makes sense to make your complaint at the venue and to tell the manager at the soonest opportunity that you're not happy and why.

Take a photo - you can escalate the complaint to head office if it's a chain. But be reasonable about what you want to resolve the matter.

If you just want to cut your losses and leave, then as long as you haven't racked up a massive bar bill, it's reasonable to expect some or all drinks to be comped.

If you have a food poisoning or hygiene-related problem, then you can report the matter to the Food Standards Agency - an independent Government department that deals with all things food related. You can complain to them about:

* Poor food hygiene

* A foreign object in your food (surprisingly common in the complaints we see)

* Cleanliness of facilities

The FSA will look at the wider issues rather than individual complaints, but they have a number of powers for persistent offenders, as doTrading Standards.

Resolver can help you sort out complaints about pretty much anything. Check share your experiences

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Have you been left feeling horrendous by a dodgy takeaway? Here are your rights

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Title Annotation:Money
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2019
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