Do you know what to do – or how to report – if you or a family member comes down with a food illness or food poisoning? Or, if you suspect that food from a store or restaurant is contaminated?
According to the CDC, each year roughly 1 in 6 people in the United States gets sick from eating contaminated food.
Most foodborne illness cases go unreported to health departments, but the CDC estimates that 9.4 million of the illnesses are caused by 31 known foodborne pathogens, and that 90% of all illnesses due to known pathogens, are caused by seven pathogens: Salmonella, norovirus, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens.
Reporting Food Illness Outbreaks
When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne disease outbreak. Reporting illnesses to your local health department helps them identify potential outbreaks of foodborne disease. Public health officials investigate outbreaks to control them, so more people do not get sick in the outbreak, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.
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Table: Report a Problem with Food
If you suspect that a food product is contaminated or has made you or someone that you know sick, follow these guidelines to report it.
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). Likewise, if you think you are ill, always see a physician.
|To Report a|
|Food (Except Meat, Poultry or Egg Products)||Phone the FDA Main Emergency Number at 866-300-4374 or phone the Consumer Complaint Coordinator for your state or area.|
For details, see Questions and Answers: Problem Reporting (FDA).
|Meat, Poultry, or Egg Products||Phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).|
In order for the USDA to investigate a problem with meat, poultry or egg products, you must have:
Information you should be ready to tell the Hotline on the phone includes:
|Pet Food||How to Report a Pet Food Complaint (FDA)|
Guidelines for reporting problems with pet food and animal feed.
|Restaurant Food||Call the Health Department in your city, county, or state. See State Departments of Public Health for contact information.|