Food Poisoning Complaint

A complaint about food poisoning can be critical for any restaurant, and how you deal with the customer in this moment can make or break your reputation. Make sure that all staff is aware of how to deal with a guest in such a situation, and make sure that managers know how to respond to such comments both online and in person.


Receiving the complaint: directly from the guest

Respond with empathy, but do not apologize for the food poisoning. An apology is often seen as an admission of guilt, and we cannot be certain that the guest got sick in our restaurant yet.


YES: "I am sorry you are feeling unwell"

NO: "I am sorry you got food poisoning"


Collect relevant information:

- Contact information

- When were they at the restaurant?

- What did they eat?

- When did their symptoms start?

- Is anyone else from their party sick?

If possible, retrieve their bill to see exactly what they had.

Encourage the guest to visit a doctor – only they can accurately diagnose food poisoning.

Make sure the guest knows we take this complaint very seriously and give the guest a timeline on when we will respond in more detail.


"We are conducting a thorough investigation to see if anything in our restaurant may have caused your complaints. We will contact you again in one week to let you know if we have discovered something."


Receiving the complaint: through an Online comment

When responding to an online comment, apply the same principles. The difference is that other (future) guests may see the comment as well. Therefore it is important to have a quick and clear response.

- Empathise, don’t apologise

- Collect relevant information

- Investigate the complaint thoroughly, and make sure guests knows you are taking it seriously

"Dear (guest), We are very sorry to hear that you are feeling unwell. All of our dishes are prepared fresh with quality ingredients, and we take hygiene standards extremely seriously. That is also why we will make the maximum effort to find out if your illness was the result of anything that came out of our kitchen.
We will contact you by (email/phone…) to request more details of your visit. Any information you can give us will greatly help our investigation.
Kind regards,

Investigate the complaint

If the guest has food poisoning, we need to find out if it came from our restaurant.

First, ask:

- Did any other guests get sick?

- Did any of the staff get sick?

The guest or their doctor should contact FAVV – if an outbreak is established they will also launch an investigation.

For us contacting FAVV can also be a good idea. This shows that we are proactive and does not mean that we caused the illness. They also have a greater capacity to find the source of the outbreak – possibly not in our kitchens at all.


The issue came from our Restaurant?

Many things can cause food poisoning

- Improper cleaning

- Cross contamination (through surfaces, in fridges etc.)

- Illness among staff

- Food left unrefrigerated too long

- Undercooked meat

- Poor hand hygiene

Be proactive and start a deep cleaning and evaluation of the processes that need to be changed to prevent this from ever happening again.

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