If you’re violently ill after eating a restaurant hamburger on a Friday night, you might not remember to call a consumer complaint hotline when it reopens the following Monday. As of September 27, you don’t have to: The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service now has an online consumer complaint form to take reports 24/7 about problems with meat, poultry, and egg products. The online report tool is primarily designed to allow consumers to report illnesses or injuries that result from eating these products.
Reports using the online form, found at ccms.fsis.usda.gov, are funneled to the Consumer Complaint Monitoring System (CCMS), where they are analyzed to determine public health implications. Created in 2001, CCMS has, until now, received complaints primarily via contacts with FSIS district offices, through state and local health departments, or through calls to the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-MPHotline).
In its first week, 14 complaints were received through the electronic form, while 13 came through traditional means of communication, said David Goldman, MD, MPH, acting administrator for the FSIS Office of Public Health Science. “If that continues, we could potentially double our intake of complaints, which is good.” Of the 14, half were found to be ineligible as valid food safety complaints, because they were inquiries about labeling and how to prepare foods. The others were entered into the CCMS database.
“We hope this offers the public a convenient means to report foodborne illness and injury at any time of the night or day,” Dr. Goldman said. “In the long term, we’ll have to see whether or not we get an increased level of complaints.”
“This new tool empowers consumers to report problems directly to FSIS, enhancing our current surveillance of the food supply and our ability to prevent food-borne illness,” added Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, MD.