Script: Filing a Consumer Complaint Part 1
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. Diane will tell us what to do if we have a consumer complaint about
meat, poultry, or processed egg products.
Welcome to the show, Diane.
Thank you Gertie. It's my pleasure to be here.
Diane, could you tell us a little bit about the complaint system and how it
Sure. It is our expectation and the consumers’ that all of the products they
purchase or receive are safe, wholesome and correctly labeled or packaged. FSIS uses a
systematic approach for consumer complaints to help identify unsafe meat, poultry, and
processed egg products that are in commerce and have to be removed.
A Consumer Compliant is identified as any complaint reported to FSIS by a consumer, or
by someone on behalf of a consumer, on a meat, poultry, or processed egg product that
alleges one or more of the following characteristics:
- An illness or allergic reaction that occurs after eating a meat, poultry, or
processed egg product. For example, an allergen such as milk or eggs that is not
identified on the product label;
- A foreign object, material or an injury that occurred while eating one of the
- Under processing of a ready-to-eat product or one that is not safely cooked in
the plant (or by the processor);
- Improper labeling or misbranding of a meat, poultry, or processed egg product;
- Economic adulteration. This could be caused by the reduction of desirable
ingredients in a product by the addition of other less desirable ingredients.
How should a consumer report a complaint Diane?
Complaints involving FSIS regulated products (meat,
poultry, or egg products) should be reported to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at
1-888-MP Hotline or (1-888-674-6854).
Could you give us some examples of complaints that
FSIS would not handle?
Yes. Listeners may want to
get their pencil out and jot down these phone numbers: some of the most prominent
Complaints that involve restaurants or store-prepared products "such as sandwiches,
salads, or meals purchased at grocery stores or local restaurants" should be reported
to the local health department.
- Complaints that involve Seafood, Fruits and Vegetables which should be
reported to the FDA; that’s 1-888-INFO-FDA or 1-888-463-6332.
- Complaints regarding food supplied through the USDA’s Food and Nutrition
Service (FNS) and nutrition assistance programs like the National School Lunch
Program, should be reported to the FNS by calling 703-305-2064. That’s
This is really good to know. Now, back to how to file a complaint on meat, poultry, or processed egg
products, could these include complaints about criminal violations?
Good question; persons with those concerns may report complaints involving possible
criminal violations of the Federal Acts such as unauthorized slaughter or processing
of meat and poultry products, to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MP
Hotline. That is 1-888-674-6854 and file their complaint.
What information should a consumer have with them when they file a complaint that
involves an FSIS regulated product?
It would be
very helpful to have:
The more information that you the consumer can provide initially will help us
follow-up and help ensure that there are no threats to the public health.
- Basic information of the complainant "name, address and contact information"
- Identification of the subject product, the brand and product name, size and
package type, name and location of place of purchase, date of purchase, the sell
by/use by date with a receipt would be best, date product was used, manufacturer’s
name and address, establishment number and amount of product remaining in the
- Also, it would be helpful to have information on the type of injury or illness
that resulted “including a description, types of symptoms and time of onset,
nature and location of any medical attention received, and type of any laboratory
test taken and results".
That’s it for
this session. We’ve been talking to Diane Van from the Food Safety Education Staff.
In an upcoming episode we will discuss "Consumer Complaint Part 2" with more
information about the FSIS consumer complaint process. Thank you Diane for your
helpful advice. 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 email@example.com.
Thanks for tuning in.
Last Modified: August 12, 20088