What should you do if you have a problem with the food product?

What should you do if you have a problem with the food product?


Example Problems:

Your hot dog has a strip of plastic inside.
The canned chili contains a metal washer.
You think a restaurant dinner made you ill.
A piece of glass was in your box of cereal.
What can you do?
FOR HELP WITH MEAT, POULTRY AND EGG PRODUCTS: Call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555.

FOR HELP WITH RESTAURANT FOOD PROBLEMS: Call the Health Department in your city, county or state. In Tulsa county, call (918) 595-4300.

FOR HELP WITH NON-MEAT FOOD PRODUCTS: For complaints about food products which do not contain meat or poultry - such as cereal - call or write to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Check your local phone book under U.S. Government, Health and Human Services, to find an FDA office in your area. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition can be reached at 1 (888) 723-3366.

In order for the USDA or FDA to investigate a problem, you should have:

the original container or packaging;
the foreign object (the plastic strip or metal washer, for example); and
any uneaten portion of the food (refrigerate or freeze it).
Information you should be ready to tell the Hotline on the phone includes:

your name, address and phone number;
the brand name, product name and manufacturer of the product;
the size and package type;
can or package codes (not UPC bar codes) and dates;
establishment number (EST) usually found in the circle or shield near the "USDA passed and inspected" phrase; (if meat, poultry, or egg product)
name and location of store and date you purchased the product.
You can complain to the store or the product's manufacturer if you don't choose to make a formal complaint to the USDA or FDA.


If an injury or illness allegedly resulted from use of a meat or poultry product, you will also need to tell the Hotline staff about the type, symptoms, time of occurrence and name of attending health professional (if applicable).
If an injury or illness allegedly resulted from restaurant food, call your State or local Health Department.
If an injury or illness allegedly resulted from non-meat food products, call or write to the FDA.
THE BOTTOM LINE: If you sense there's a problem with any food product, don't consume it. "When in doubt, throw it out."