How do I report a problem with food and/or report food poisoning?

If you would like to make a complaint about a food product and/or report a food poisoning, the problem should be reported to the appropriate government agency. Both reporting types are explained below.


  • If you think you have food poisoning or an allergic reaction to food, call your doctor. If it’s an emergency, call 911.
  • If you believe you or someone you know became ill from eating a certain food, contact your local health department AND contact the appropriate government agency to report the food as explained below.
  • Reporting illnesses to your local health department helps them identify potential outbreaks of foodborne disease.
  • For more information on how public health officials investigate foodborne outbreaks, see Steps in a Foodborne Outbreak Investigation.

There are different government agencies that are responsible for protecting food depending on the type of food and if the food was consumed at home or at a restaurant. For an overview of how to report a problem with food, follow these guidelines:

Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
To report a problem with meat, poultry, and egg products, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or report the complaint on line at  Report a Problem with Food.

For more details about reporting a problem to the USDA see these resource below:

  1. In order for the USDA to investigate a problem with meat, poultry or egg products, you must have:
    1. The original container or packaging
    2. Any foreign object that you might have discovered in the product
    3. Any uneaten portion of the food (refrigerate or freeze it)
  2. Information you should be ready to tell the Hotline on the phone includes:
    1. Name, address and phone number
    2. Brand name, product name and manufacturer of the product
    3. The size and package type
    4. Can or package codes (not bar codes) and dates
    5. Establishment number (EST) usually found in the circle or shield near the "USDA passed and inspected" phrase
    6. Name and location of the store, as well as the date that you purchased the product
    7. You can complain to the store or the product's manufacturer if you don't choose to make a formal complaint to the USDA.

Non-Meat Food Products (Cereals, Fish, Produce, Fruit Juice, Pastas, Cheeses, etc) Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
To report non-emergencies about food (except for meat, poultry or egg products), contact the Consumer Complaint Coordinators assigned to your geographic region. If you or someone you are with is currently having a non-life threatening adverse reaction to an FDA-regulated product that requires immediate reporting, call the Food and Drug Administration Main Emergency Number (1-866-300-4374). If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911.

What should I include in my report?

  • Report what happened as soon as possible. Give names, addresses and phone numbers of persons affected. Include your name, address and phone number, as well as that of the doctor or hospital if emergency treatment was provided.
  • State the problem clearly. Describe the product as completely as possible, including any codes or identifying marks on the label or container. Give the name and address of the store where the product was purchased and the date of purchase.
  • You also should report the problem to the manufacturer or distributor shown on the label and to the store where you purchased the product.

Restaurant Food
To report a problem with restaurant food, call your local health department. You may also try contacting your state health department.

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