Script: Filing a Consumer Complaint Part 2
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service
Food Safety at home podcast series. These podcasts were
designed with you in mind - the consumer - who purchases and
prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging
from safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry and
processed egg products to the importance of keeping foods safe
during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to "Food Safety at Home." This is Gertie Hurley with the Food Safety and
I am your host for this segment. Today we have Diane Van with us from the Food Safety
Education Staff. We will continue our discussion on filing a food related consumer complaint. In the
previous episode we talked about whom to call and what information you need to have
with you to file a compliant. Today we'll look at how your complaint is processed and
what outcome you can expect.
Diane, tell us a little about how this works.
Sure thing. When FSIS receives a consumer complaint, it's reviewed to determine
whether the complaint is eligible to be entered into the Consumer Complaint System.
What can happen to a complaint after it is entered into the complaint system?
Food safety is a high priority for FSIS and each consumer complaint is
diligently reviewed before making a decision to either:
- Close the case: when it is determined that the complaint does
not require further examination. Closing the case would include the reason action
on the complaint was not needed. A letter will be sent out to inform the consumer
of the final determination about their complaint.
- Request an investigation: Once a determination is made, the
complaint should be investigated by the appropriate FSIS field office. FSIS will
then assign one of its officials to investigate the complaint.
What would happen during the investigation?
The assigned Agency official will meet with the consumer.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, the investigation may involve activities
In some cases, investigators may collect an index sample or the remaining portion
of the product from the consumer along with samples of the product with identical
codes at the point of purchase. These samples are submitted to the FSIS laboratory for
- Collection of the relevant information and evidence needed to identify and
document the alleged problem with the product as reported by the consumer.
- Visual inspection of the product and verify that the correct product
information was entered into the system.
- Take pictures, collect physical evidence, and obtain any other information
that the investigator determines is needed to identify and document the alleged
The person filing the complaint is instructed to keep any remaining product and the
product packaging in the freezer until he or she receives verbal or written
communication from FSIS concerning the outcome of the complaint. Upon the conclusion
of the investigation, FSIS will determine the appropriate course of action and notify
the consumer accordingly.
What if the person filing a complaint does not have all the information
needed at the time of the investigation or if they get more information
after their case is closed?
The case may be reopened based on new valid information.
That's it for this session. We've been talking to Diane
Van from the Food Safety Education Staff. Thank you Diane for your helpful information
on the FSIS consumer complaint process. I'm Gertie Hurley. I'd like to thank you for
joining us for this episode of "Food Safety at Home" and remember, "Be Food Safe."
Well, that's all for this time. Thanks for joining us today
for another episode of food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free
meat and poultry hotline at 1-888-mphotline. That's
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our
virtual representative "ask karen" at www.askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your
comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for tuning in.