How to Report a Food Safety Concern in Canada

Have a concern about the safety of food in a restaurant, grocery store or a pre-packaged product? Find out who to contact about food safety or labelling concerns.
July 22, 2019

In Canada, the responsibility for food safety is shared between the federal government and provincial health units or departments. Depending on your concern and the type of food business involved, there are different departments you should contact.

Restaurant and food service complaints

If you have concerns about the food or hygiene practices in an establishment, you can report it to your local health department.

This includes complaints or concerns about:

  • poor hygiene standards in food preparation or dining areas
  • unsafe food handling practices or failure to adhere to food safety standards
  • the actions, hygiene or behaviour of cooks, servers or other Food Handlers
  • suspected illness from eating the food

This does not include complaints that are:

  • unrelated to food or hygiene (e.g. complaints about quality of service, food prices or refund policies)
  • frivolous, vengeful or not made in good faith

If you suspect that you or someone in your care has contracted a food-borne illness, we recommend that you contact your doctor or a local public health centre to determine if treatment is required.

Food-borne illness can have serious consequences for pregnant women, young children, the elderly and immunocompromised people. Learn more about high-risk customer groups and the dangers of food poisoning.

 

PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

To report a food safety concern about a restaurant or other food service business to your local health authority, choose your province or region from the list below.

ALBERTA

BRITISH COLUMBIA (view map)

MANITOBA

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

NEW BRUNSWICK

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

NOVA SCOTIA

NUNAVUT

ONTARIO

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

QUEBEC

SASKATCHEWAN

YUKON TERRITORY

Grocery store or retail food complaints

Depending on where you live, concerns or complaints about grocery stores or other retail food outlets are handled by local health authorities or designated provincial departments.

This includes complaints or concerns about:

  • poor hygiene or sanitation standards
  • sightings of mice, insects or other pests on the premises
  • unsafe food handling practices
  • the actions of store staff (in relation to handling food)

Note: At the retail level of trade, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) protects consumers from economic fraud and product misrepresentation. The CFIA does not handle concerns about the quality of food being sold in retail stores.

Concerns about the quality of food sold in a retail store should be directed to the store where the product was purchased. Some example of food quality concerns may include:

  • spoiled fruits and vegetables
  • stale or mouldy food
  • food being sold after a best before date

If you cannot resolve the issue with the store, or if you believe the retail business poses a public health risk, contact your local health authority.

Food labelling / product safety or quality concerns

Some food safety or food labelling concerns should be reported directly to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

These types of concerns include:

  • suspected food poisoning from food purchased at a retail store
  • allergic reactions to food where a food allergen may not be listed in the ingredients
  • physical contamination of a food product (e.g. metal, glass, hair)
  • food that may be contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites
  • recalled food products for sale in a retail store
  • misleading or misrepresentation of pre-packaged food on food labels

Click here to report a food safety or labelling concern to the CFIA.

In Quebec, please contact the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec instead (French only).