Report a Problem with Food
If you have a problem with a food product...
Separate government agencies 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.
For Help with Meat, Poultry and Processed Egg Products:
Call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or report the complaint online.
For Help with Restaurant Food Problems:
Call the Health Department in your city, county or state. View a complete listing of State Departments of Public Health.
For Help with Non-Meat Food Products (Cereals, Fish, Produce, Fruit Juice, Pastas, Cheeses, etc):
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 to investigate a problem with meat, poultry or egg products, you must have:
- The original container or packaging
- Any foreign object that you might have discovered in the product
- Any uneaten portion of the food (refrigerate or freeze it)
Information you should be ready to tell the Hotline on the phone includes:
- Name, address and phone number;
- 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;
- Name and location of the store, as well as the date that 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.
If you think you are ill, see a physician.
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).
The Bottom Line:
If you sense there's a problem with any food product, don't consume it. "When in doubt, throw it out."