Reporting a Food Problem to the Right Place


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We all have our favorite government agencies that we love (or love to hate). I love the PBGC and the USDA. Both totally punch above their weight and are worthwhile public expenditures. They do exactly what they're set up to do: set a floor under their respective bailiwicks.

For instance, if you got an unacceptable burger, you'd take it back to the counter. But what if there's a foreign object in the box of cereal or a really bad egg? Who you gonna call? The USDA, of course.

But different parts of the USDA do different things. The agency breaks it down in a helpful list.

For help with meat, poultry and egg products, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

They will ask for:

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)

For help with non-meat food products (cereals, fish, produce, fruit juice, pastas, cheeses, etc), call or write to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Check the Nashville phone book under U.S. Government, Health and Human Services, to find the FDA office in this area. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition can be reached at 1-888-723-3366 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time.

Information you should be ready to tell the hotline 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 UPC 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.

You can always complain to the store if you prefer not to contact the government. But it's good they've got your back.


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