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Found a Problem With Your Food? USDA Wants To Know About It

Have you ever opened a package from the grocery store to find that something wasn’t right about it, and then wondered who to call to report a problem?  The company’s toll-free number? The grocery store that sold it? Or someone else? If that product involves meat, poultry, or a processed egg product, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service just made it easier consumers to alert the agency to food safety problems, any time of the day or night.

The Electronic Consumer Complaint Form (ECCF), which became available on FSIS’s website this morning, will allow consumers to submit the important information FSIS needs to begin an investigation in just six steps. Consumers will be requested to provide details on:

  • When and where the product was purchased;
  • When and how the problem was noticed;
  • And how the agency can contact you for more information. Personal information is optional and will be used solely for the agency’s investigative purposes and product tracking.

I know how you feel when you find that something is not in the condition you expected, or worse, if something you bought and prepared has made you or your family sick.  Some parents have to carefully read food labels to make sure allergens will not cause a reaction for their child. Now, if they suspect something is mislabeled, the ECCF offers them an additional option for reporting the problem directly to USDA for appropriate investigation and action.

Our food safety inspectors work hard to ensure the food supply is safe. However, hazards can enter the food supply at many points along the farm-to-fork spectrum where there aren’t any inspectors. ECCF is a new gateway to our existing Consumer Complaint Monitoring System, which allows us to crowdsource surveillance of the overall food supply. If you find or suspect that a product is mislabeled, contains an item or ingredient that shouldn’t be there, or if it has caused an illness or allergic reaction, it is crucial that federal public health agencies know about it.

We’ve relied on reporting from state and local health departments and our own Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-MPHotline) until now, and ECCF will open up our availability to hear you 24/7. It will remove constraints like office hours and even human error that may have prevented us from receiving important details in the past.

This afternoon at 3 p.m. EST, I’ll be hosting USDA’s monthly virtual office hours. Follow the Twitter feed @USDA and use the hashtag #AskUSDA to join our food safety forum as part of National Food Safety Education Month. I’ll be happy to take questions about ECCF and other topics pertaining to the safety and safe handling of meat, poultry and processed egg products that FSIS regulates.

Screenshot of the The Electronic Consumer Complaint Form (ECCF), which became available on FSIS’s website on September 26, 2012.

Screenshot of the The Electronic Consumer Complaint Form (ECCF), which became available on FSIS’s website on September 26, 2012.

3 Responses to “Found a Problem With Your Food? USDA Wants To Know About It”

  1. Rhonda says:

    All I can say is maybe the USDA should see this movie…
    http://www.hungryforchange.tv/book-purchase-bonuses
    From-
    A concerned parent, school nurse and human being

  2. GILBERT SERRANO says:

    THERE IS A KEY FOOD SUPERMARKET ON THE CORNER OF E.GUNHILL RD, AT 3515 JEROME AVE, BRONX, NY 10467 – I HAVE EXPERIENCED AND CUSTOMERS OFTEN CONSTANTLY COMPLAIN ABOUT THE MEATS AND DAIRY PRODUCTS BEING SOLD. THE STORE CONSTANTLY DISPLAY CASE STACKS OF UNREFRIGERATED EGGS ON THE FLOOR BESIDE THE DAIRY CASE. I ALWAYS FIND EXPIRED PRODUCTS ON THE SHELVES AND THE MEATS SOLD ARE NEAR EXPIRATION AND OFTEN TIMES LOOK VERY UNHEALTHY. OFTEN TIMES THE STORE IS A MESS AND CERTAIN FOOD ITEMS SIT IN THE SAME SPOT FOR MONTHS AT A TIME. MY WIFE ONCE SUFFERED FOOD POISONING. WE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT WAS UNTIL SHE TOLD ME THAT SHE ATE SCRAMBLED EGGS THAT MORNING AND THAT SHE PURCHASED THE EGGS AT KEY FOOD.

  3. rwilymz says:

    I call the store. I get a new one of whatever it is I bought.

    There is absolutely no reason I can think of to get the government’s ham-fists involved, because all they’re going to do about it is institute a recall that ends up throwing away thousands of tons of perfectly good food “just in case”, worth tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

    That kind of waste is then borne by the consumer – me – who must now pay increased prices for everything in order to help defray the cost to the producer, packager and retailer because a bureaucrat has nothing better to do than throw food away … “just in case”.

    When you call the store, you get a replacement. When you call the government, you don’t get a replacement, you get officious jerks making everything cost more.

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