Anytime you think you are seriously ill, seek medical attention. And if you think food caused your illness, make sure it gets reported. Most foodborne illnesses are “reportable,” which means your doctor lets the local health department know about them.
That’s how you might become a “confirmed case” in a multistate outbreak. It’s your confirmed test result that gets reported to the health department, your name is kept private.
But if you do not want to pursue action through a medical route, you can report your bad food experience directly to federal regulators. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both welcome consumer reports about contaminated or adulterated food.
Both FSIS and FDA explain how on their websites. As September’s food safety month comes to a close shortly, Food Safety News is passing this information along with some explanation to help consumers get to the right agency. The FSIS and FDA are responsible for protecting different segments of the food supply. If you have experienced a problem with a food product, be sure to contact the appropriate public health organization.
To reach them by phone:
It’s important before you call FSIS or FDA that you understand how federal regulatory responsibilities are divided among the various agencies. The FDA, which has the most authority in these areas, offers this outline of how it breaks down.
By subject and topic, FDA also has “functions related” to these federal agencies:
FSIS regulates aspects of the safety and labeling of traditional (non-game) meats, poultry, certain egg products and catfish. For a USDA investigation of any problem with these products, please be ready to provide:
Here’s the information the FSIS Hotline needs from you:
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, known as CFSAN, provides services to consumers, domestic and foreign industry and other outside groups regarding field programs; agency administrative tasks; scientific analysis and support; and policy, planning, and handling of critical issues related to food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.
To help FDA effectively investigate, remove unsafe seafood products from the market, and develop new prevention strategies, the FDA relies on illness reporting from public health officials and healthcare providers. While most foodborne outbreaks are tracked through the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network, seafood-related illnesses caused by natural toxins have a unique reporting mechanism.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Outreach and Information Center
5001 Campus Drive, HFS-009
College Park, MD 20740-3835
FDA asks that products not be mailed to this address.
By Dan Flynn on September 22, 2021