The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services have assigned separate government agencies to protect segments of the food supply.
If you have experienced a problem with a food product, contact the appropriate public health organization.
For the USDA to investigate a problem with meat, poultry or egg products, call 1-888-674-6854. You must have:
●The original container or packaging
●The foreign object found in the product
●Any uneaten portion of the food — refrigerate or freeze it
For help with restaurant food problems, contact your local city, county or state Department of Public Health.
For all non-meat food products — like cereals, fish, produce, fruit juice, pastas and cheeses — call or write to the Food and Drug Administration, 850-942-8325 or 3116 Capital Circle NE, Suite 4, Tallahassee, FL.
Have the following information available:
●Name, address and phone number
●The product’s brand name, product name and manufacturer
●The size and package type
●Can or package codes and dates; these are not UPC bar codes
●Establishment number, or EST, usually found in the circle or shield near the "USDA passed and inspected" phrase
●The store’s name and location, and 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.
See a physician if you think you are ill.
If an injury or illness results from use of a meat or poultry product, tell the hotline staff about the symptoms, time of occurrence and name of attending health professional, if applicable.
Of course, if you sense there's a problem with any food product, don't consume it. "When in doubt, throw it out."
Source: Safe Food Handling Fact Sheets, United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service
Brenda Smith is with the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview.