Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal statute that allows any person the right to obtain Federal agency records unless the records (or a part of the records) are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law. On October 2, 1996, the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA) were signed into law. E-FOIA makes it possible for individuals to have electronic access to certain USDA information without having to make formal FOIA requests.
For instructions on submitting FOIA requests to other government agencies, please consult FOIA Points of Contact for Other USDA Agencies.
To Make a FOIA Request
Please find tips, contacts, and information below for FOIA requests.
FSIS only maintains records relating to its food safety mission.
We are required to send you an answer within 20 working days of receiving your request. Our response might include all the materials you requested, a portion of your request with a listing of reasons why we withheld information, or a denial of all information. If denied, we will inform you of your appeal rights.
- Before submitting FOIA requests, we encourage you to review our USDA FOIA Regulations | PDF.
- FSIS routinely posts records, so what you are looking for may be already publicly available. Please check the following:
- The FOIA does not require agencies to do research, answer written questions, or create agency records in order to respond to a request. Accordingly, please make sure your request is framed in a way to direct a search for specific agency records.
- Please ensure any follow-up communication regarding your request includes the assigned internal tracking number. Doing so will help us to quickly retrieve the details of your requests.
- If you cannot determine which USDA FOIA component is responsible for the records you want, address your FOIA request to our Freedom of Information Act Coordinator:
- Telephone: (202) 720-2109
- Fax: (202) 690-3023
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be advised that our FOIA components are continuing to process requests to the best of their ability during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during USDA’s maximized telework operating status, FOIA professionals will not have daily access to delivered mail and facsimile transmissions. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to submit your requests electronically.
- Submit Online via USDA’s Public Access Link (PAL)
You can access the USDA PAL web portal (USDA Public Access Link (PAL) that allows you to create, submit, and track the status of your FOIA request(s). You can also use PAL to download your responsive records. Prior to use, you must register and create a username and password.
- Submit Online via FOIA.GOV (Department of Justice National FOIA Portal)
FOIA requests can also be submitted via the Department of Justice National FOIA Portal (FOIA.GOV). From the FOIA.GOV main screen, click “Create a Request” to get started. You can search for a specific USDA component, or search for “Department of Agriculture” to see a list of all USDA FOIA components.
Submit via Email to FSIS.FOIA@usda.gov. Do not e-mail personal information to the FOIA Office. Please send via postal service or other commercial delivery to:
Freedom of Information Act Officer
USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service
Room 1175 South Building
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250
By fax to: (202) 690-3023
If you are seeking to amend or modify records under the Privacy Act, contact the Privacy Office at SM.OCIO.CIO.UsdaPrivacy@usda.gov for additional guidance.
In accordance with 7 CFR Appendix A to Subpart A of Part 1, Section (3)(b), fees shall be waived where the amount of the fee is $25.00 or less.
To Contact Us or Provide Feedback
FOIA Public Liaison
FSIS Freedom of Information Act Office
Room 1175-South Building
14th and Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-3700
Phone: (202) 720-2109
Fax: (202) 690-3023
The FSIS Freedom of Information Act office is dedicated to processing FOIA requests in an efficient and effective manner. Please e-mail us at email@example.com to provide feedback on your experience as well as suggestions for improvements.