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Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

You recently purchased a meal at a restaurant or food from the grocery store. You expect it’s safe for you and your family. However, within a couple of days, you begin to vomit, have diarrhea, feel nauseated, and experience several other symptoms.

This would be the time to reach out to your local health department or the government agency responsible for taking your report—because you might not be the only one sick.

Why Should You Report Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning cases should not be taken lightly. Reporting them helps hold establishments liable and prevents others from getting sick. This is like the auto industry. Investigators may find that a series of accidents were linked to a faulty part. The manufacturer now must issue a recall of all the vehicles using that part to prevent further injury or death.

With food poisoning cases, health officials use your report in their investigation to pinpoint the type of illness, the contaminated food, and the place that sold the contaminated food.

How to Report Food Poisoning

There are a couple of different routes to report your food-borne illness. However, you should call your doctor before you do anything to ensure you’re safe and taking steps toward recovery. Your doctor may request tests or stool samples to determine the type of food-borne illness you had, which can help investigators.

You might suspect a restaurant caused your sickness. Or you may feel your symptoms were caused by a contaminated food product you bought from the store. Depending on your situation, there are specific places you need to call to make a report.

How to Report to the Local Health Department for Food Safety?

To report a restaurant for suspected food poisoning, contact your local health department—if you went to the doctor, they might have informed health officials about your food poisoning case.

This is their first step in identifying a potential outbreak and homing in on the source. Local health officials may have already received several calls from individuals reporting similar symptoms, which can help their investigation.

Questions Health Officials Might Ask You

Be prepared to answer several questions from your local health department to ensure they make a thorough report. You must provide the following information:

  • The name of the restaurant you ate at
  • The date your symptoms started and their duration
  • Your symptoms (be specific)
  • The food you ate
  • The people you ate with
  • Any medical treatment you received
  • Anything you ate before symptoms became apparent

Your local health department will document your information and continue their investigation. Some cases might require State and Federal agencies to work together to contain the outbreak and inform the public.

How to Report Food Poisoning from a Contaminated Product

Food poisoning can also occur from food purchased from the grocery store. You may experience symptoms after a few days of consuming it and decide to report for potential food poisoning. The process is slightly different from reporting a food poisoning incident caused by a restaurant’s food.

Who You Call Depends on What You Ate

Certain agencies are responsible for handling cases for specific types of food. For example, if you suffered food poisoning from contaminated meat, poultry, or processed eggs, you would call the Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

For any food products other than meat, poultry, and eggs, you would call the FDA’s main emergency number at 866-300-4374. You can also contact your Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your local area.

What to Have When Making Your Report

According to the USDA, you will need to have the following for your report:

  • The original container or packaging
  • Any foreign object you found in the product
  • Any uneaten portion of the contaminated food

Information You Must Provide to Health Officials

Like your report to a local health department for restaurant food poisoning, you’ll need to give health officials some critical information for a complete report according to the USDA, such as:

  • Personal information like your name, address, and phone number
  • Product manufacturer
  • Type of package
  • Any codes on the can or package. This is not the product’s Bar Code.
  • The establishment number (look in the “USDA Passed and Inspected” phrase)
  • Date the product was purchased and the store you bought it at

Recover What You Lost with a Food Poisoning Lawyer

Reporting your illness is only half the battle. You could have been forced to pay high medical bills for treatment and suffered lost wages, making things tight financially. You need to recover all you lost from negligent restaurants and product manufacturers.

The OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers know what you lost and how to help you recover financially and emotionally. We’re committed to protecting the public’s health and will fight to see you made whole again. Contact us by calling 888-828-7087 today. Free Consults.

Notable Recoveries

$10 million

Seven infants were sickened after consuming a contaminated food product marketed to infants

$6.5 million

Verdict on behalf of a little boy who contracted a severe Salmonella infection from chicken

$7.55 million

Verdict on behalf of a little girl who contracted E. coli at a petting zoo

$2.25 million

E. coli infections contracted from a major fast food chain

$45 million

An over-the-counter medication caused severe kidney damage to multiple users

$3.4 million

A pregnant woman contracted a Listeria infection from contaminated fruit and passed the infection to her child

$3 million

Multistate Cyclospora outbreaks


A couple contracted Salmonella from a restaurant


A pedestrian was struck by a left-turning car, fracturing her tibia


A semi-truck rear-ended a motorcyclist causing a collapsed lung, rib fractures and road rash