How to report a food safety problem – Part 2

Know who to contact if you experience a problem with food served away from the home.

Eating at a restaurant or attending a catered event is generally an experience most people enjoy. However if safe food handling practices or improper cooking methods are not followed, the result can cause illness or food poisoning. If you or a family member becomes ill after eating food away from home you should report this information to your city or county health department. Michigan State University Extension recommends consumers report food complaints promptly to allow local health department staff to investigate and address potential public health concerns.

Knowing how to contact your local health department is important. The Foodsafety.gov website provides information to public health departments across the U.S. which is helpful if you are traveling. The Michigan Department of Community Health includes a local health department map to assist consumers attempting to contact a health department in Michigan.

Food is everywhere and when you consider the fact that many meals may be eaten away from home, the potential for encountering contaminated food becomes very real. There are many different venues from restaurants, bars, convenience stores, fairs, sporting events, catered events, office parties and more where food is served. Should a food issue be observed please report it. Local health departments will follow-up and investigate if necessary.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends to have ready the following information to help you prepare to call in your food complaint.

  1. Name, address and phone number
  2. Date, time and address of restaurant or place where food was ate
  3. List of specific food items that were ate
  4. If food caused illness, provide the date illness started and symptoms, also health care contact information
  5. If suspected food is available, place in refrigerator or freezer as the health department may investigate

The unpleasant physical symptoms associated with foodborne illness can be especially hard on young children and older adults. It can be challenging to determine if food you consumed while away from home caused illness or food poisoning, however it is important to report suspected food problems to your local health department. Reporting instances of foodborne illness and food poisoning is an important step to assure the food being prepared and served at locations through your community is safe for all.

For more on reporting possibly foodborne illness read How to report a food safety problem.

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